TANK BUSTER may have got away lightly with a 5lb rise for his wide-margin Market Rasen win and gets the vote here ahead of Wizard Of Edge, Midnight Haze and Black Ven. The selection has returned from a lengthy absence in excellent form, winning on his return last summer at Newton Abbot before that Market Rasen success in early December. The latter was aided by the fall of his sole challenger just as things were getting serious, so it is hard to say confidently that he would have won, but he was still 31 lengths clear of the rest of the field and the form looks smart enough in the context of this race to think he can defy a 5lb rise. Wizard Of Edge loves it here, having recorded four course wins including two over this trip. He was a very comfortable Taunton scorer last time, but has gone up 10lbs as a result and we can see him running well without managing to follow up from what his CV suggests is a tough mark. Midnight Haze carries topweight and is open to improvement after just four starts over fences, one of which resulted in a 2m 5f Kempton win on good going. Although he has handled cut on one previous occasion, his best form appears to be on drier ground and so we will take him on with that big racing weight to shoulder. Black Ven relishes getting his toe in and returned to something like form at Folkestone last time. He has not yet shown that he stays beyond 2m 4f, but pedigree suggests that this trip is ideal and market support would be very interesting. Oncle Kid has some ability but he has serious jumping issues to address and, as a maiden after 30 starts is not difficult to oppose, so we'll take Tank Buster to blow them away.
Midnight Haze 5-2fav (12-0) Prominent, ridden to chase winner 3 out, no impression, 2nd of 14, 10l behind Far More Serious (11-12) at Hereford 2m 3f hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Nov.
Tank Buster 5-1 (11-9) Made most, hard pressed when left 25 lengths clear 3 out, driven out, comfortably, won at Market Rasen 3m 5f hcp chs 0-105 (4) hvy in Dec beating And Whatever Else (11-4) by 30l, 6 ran.
Oncle Kid (FR) 9-1 (10-3) Chased leaders, mistake 10th, led after 5 out, 3 lengths clear and going strongly when fell heavily 3 out, in a race won by Too Forward (11-5) at Wincanton 2m 5f hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Jan, 9 ran.
Black Ven (IRE) 10-1 (11-9) Prominent, under pressure 8th, soon outpaced, headway after last, stayed on well, no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 5l behind Rince Donn (10-11) at Folkestone 2m 5yo nov hcp (4) sft in Jan.
Dune Raider (USA) 9-2fav (11-0) Led to 5th, chased leader to 7th, slightly lost place after until rallied from 13th, chased leaders 4 out, one pace and no impression when slightly hampered before last, 4th of 9, 5l behind Free World (11-12) at Leicester 2m 7f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gf in Nov.
Wizard of Edge 9-2fav (10-4) Chased leaders, went 2nd before 10th, jumped right 3 out, soon challenging going well, led on long run to 2 out, clear before last, kept on strongly, won at Taunton 3m 3f hcp ch 0-110 (4) sft in Jan beating Maori Legend (10-3) by 3 1/2l, 9 ran.
Laudamus 16-1 (11-4) Soon led, pushed along and headed 13th, rallied approaching 3 out, stayed on after last, 3rd of 17, 5l behind Extra Bold (11-6) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-100 (4) gd in Mar.
Treasulier (IRE) 50-1 (10-0) Led to 3rd, chased leading pair when blundered and useated rider 5th, in a race won by Richard's Sundance (11-9) at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Jan, 15 ran.
Outside Investor (IRE) 25-1 (11-1) Prominent, reminders approaching 8th, led 9th, headed 10th, soon lost place, 10th of 15, well behind Sarahs Gift (10-7) at Newton Abbot 2m 5f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gf in Sep.