Tote Win: £3.40 Tote Place: £1.60,1.30,1.60
Straight Forecast: £5.30 Exacta: £5.90 Trifecta: £11.60 Swingers: 1&2:1.80 2&3:2.40 1&3:2.10
Jackpot: £559.50, Pool: £18360.38, 44.68 winning tickets
Placepot: £16.90, Pool: £141014.9, 6059.65 winning tickets
Quadpot: £10.90, Pool: £11560.07, 783.62 winning tickets
Alan King's pair Walkon and Franchoek both landed this prize before going on to finish second in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival where the conditions are usually hugely contrasting. The ground was once again fairly testing for this fixture but that wasn't expected to be a problem for HOLLOW TREE who fairly relished this stiffer test. A decent stayer on the Flat, he dug deep into his stamina reserves when strongly challenged by Countrywide Flame and readily saw his rival off towards the end of the long home straight. The winner had been put in his place by Hinterland at Cheltenham (when unsuited by the slow pace) which puts this form into perspective given the subsequent eclipse of Paul Nicholls' runner but this was still a decent performance from a progressive performer. Whether, he has the speed to be successful in the Triumph on quicker ground in the spring is doubtful but he deserves to take his chance. Countrywide Flame's cause wasn't helped by racing too keenly and he had no more to offer approaching the last. He did, however, finish well clear of the field and improved on the form that he has shown to date. It was understandable that connections weren't keen to get into a battle with the winner for the lead here but a return to front-running tactics may help him to settle better next time and he can be found another opportunity to add to the three victories he's already achieved. Secret Edge represented a yard with a good record in this race and, although he hadn't given the impression that he was out of the top drawer, it was disappointing that he didn't give the first two more to think about with this test expected to suit. He had finished seven lengths adrift of the winner at Cheltenham before winning over an extended two miles two at Fontwell and, in hindsight, his connections may regret not making more use of him. Kapga De Cerisy had not been disgraced in graded races at Auteuil and shaped with some promise on debut for new connections. His table introduced a useful French import in this race last season and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this start from which it's reasonable to expect him to improve.