Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££2.60,£1.60,£3.50
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Trifecta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£7.80 2&3:£10.30 1&3:£12.80
Jackpot: £74,164.61 carried forward to Cheltenham, 17th Mar
Placepot: £933.20, Pool: £918439.44, 718.42 winning tickets
Quadpot: £211.90, Pool: £38065.53, 132.92 winning tickets
An utterly commanding performance from last-year's Arkle winner SIZING EUROPE, as, sent to the front early on, he hardly saw another rival. Coming into this race fresh and well after missing an engagement in the (initial) King George VI Chase at Kempton, he actually started the race with a couple of slow leaps. However his jumping improved as the race progressed, and he had most of the field on the stretch at the top of the hill. He made a meal of the re-sited second-last fence but showed plenty of temerity to shrug that off and his leap at the last basically sealed the victory. He looked tremendous ahead of the race, kicking and squealing like a baby, and he raced so powerfully throughout the race that he basically blew his rivals away. His owner has a dream of winning the Gold Cup, but it's hard to see this horse racing over anything but two miles in the future, and he has shown in two Festivals that Prestbury Park really brings him alive. Reigning champion Big Zeb ran very well, but his jumping was a tenth of what it was last year. He was fiddly at several, including the fence directly after the water, but his class saw him still on the bridle coming down the hill. As Master Minded was pushed along beside him, he went off in hot pursuit of the eventual winner but whilst he got to within half a length at the second last, he never looked like picking up Sizing Europe. This was a fine run, but he will need to jump with more zest if he is to regain his crown in 12 months time. Captain Cee Bee stayed on well into third, having made a fair mistake at the ninth. Although he was well-held in third, this was a much better effort and it will be interesting to see whether he can reproduce the effort wherever he heads to next. Golden Silver was held up throughout, which in hindsight probably wasn't the best place to be. He started to make up ground coming down the hill and threatened to hit the frame turning in, but his effort flattened out slightly after the last. Somersby made a bad mistake at the fifth fence from home and that stopped his momentum. He had tracked the leaders towards the outside for most of the race but was ultimately made to look a shade below Grade One level late on; in truth, that is what he is. Connections may rue not going for the easier Ryanair 24 hours later, although given the situation with the owner's health it was an understandable move. French Opera was next, but he wasn't especially fluent and paid the price at this top level, whilst I'm So Lucky ran a cracker. Ultimately he was well-held in ninth, but in first-time headgear he was given a more patient ride. He started to creep into the race coming down the hill but his effort after turning in was weak in comparison. Mad Max was disappointing after front-running for a while, whilst Woolcombe Folly was never a danger and was well-held when fluffing the second-last fence. The big story was Master Minded, who was heavily backed on course. Sent off at 2-1, one always got the impression that Ruby Walsh was never really happy with him. He was a couple of lengths down in third, and being pressured for that place, when he smashed through the second-last fence, a move that sent him spiralling back through the field. That was game over. His future may now lie over further, as his trainer believes it will, as they always seemed to be going a stride too quick for him on this ground and his jumping wasn't electric enough to cope with it all.