IN SUMMARY: Most of these have been seen over fences (not hurdles) in recent months and years but had high class hurdling form in the distant past. How they will jump these strange obstacles will decide the eventual winner but we will side with UN DE SCEAUX (5/2) who has won around here all be it over slightly shorter and is as classy as they get over fences. Simonsig is the most interesting challenger but has had his issues of late, but if fully wound up may well give the favourite the most to do today.
1 Thousand Stars (10/1) – One of three course and distance winners in the field but won’t be improving any further at the veteran age of twelve. One of the few hurdlers in this field having never even tried fences but ought to be outclassed today.
2 Ptit Zig (8/1) – Decent chaser who won last time out at Sandown over this sort of trip back over the smaller obstacles and was twelve lengths second to Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle and won here as a four-year-old when trained in France.
3 Le Grand Luce (16/1) – One of the best of the home team but well held by Thousand Stars Un De Sceaux and Ptit Zig so should be an outsider regardless – remote place chances at best.
4 Bosseur (40/1) – A line through Blue Dragon gives him a very similar chance to Le Grand Luce – which isn’t likely to prove good enough this afternoon with so many top class British raiders.
5 Alex De Larredya (20/1) – Scored over course and distance last time out on similar going so not without a shout. That was his first run in five months so he could strip fitter this afternoon, outside chances of a first three finish if the chasers fail to adapt to hurdles today.
6 Simonsig (5/1) – Won the Neptune at Cheltenham and the Mersey at Aintree over hurdles in 2012 but has been chasing since with long gaps off due to injury. Would be a serious player at his best but his fitness has to be in question with so many problems, could win pulling a cart and seems sure to run well.
7 Tara River (100/1) – Decent enough with two wins from five starts over hurdles but seems outclassed here by the foreign raiders and likely to struggle
8 Al Ferof (11/2) – Top quality chaser but not been seen over hurdles since 2011 which has to be a concern, and he may not jump fluently enough at the speed they seem likely to go at. Aged eleven so won’t be getting any better but is classy enough to do himself justice.
9 Un De Sceaux (5/2) – has won over a little shy of two and a half miles over hurdles but has been limited to two miles or so over fences and this trip could be a concern on very soft ground. Chasing form is superb with a runners up spot to Sprinter Sacre at both Cheltenham and Sandown, and won all seven races over hurdles just not over this far. The class act and the one they all have to beat.
10 Gevrey Chambertin (33/1) – Lovely horse who stays further and handles heavy ground so no issues on that score. Would be rated a long way short of these over both fences and hurdles, and hard to fancy today.
11 Ballynagour (14/1) – Won this race last season for David Pipe and presumably the stable first string with Tom Scudamore on board. Stays for ever but is better known over fences these days and may find a few of these have too much speed for him this year.
12 Aubusson (18/1) – Decent hurdler who has gone on to win over fences and was only a nose behind Thousand Stars here last November over further and should reverse that form on four pound better terms today. Stays further and would prefer a war of attrition in these conditions, not without an outside chance if the main protagonists have an off day.
13 Fracafigura Has (100/1) – Youngest horse in the contest and gets weight from her elders but two wins from eleven starts in lesser company does not inspire – outsider and rightly so.
myracing Forecast Prices: 2/1 Un De Sceaux, 5/1 Simonsig, 8/1 Al Ferof Ptit Zig, 12/1 Thousand Stars Ballynagour, 16/1 Le Grand Luce Aubusson, 25/1 Alex De Larreyda Bosseur, 33/1 Gevrey Chambertin, 100/1 Tara River Fracafigura Has