Champ is a favourite that I’m keen to take on, as the form of his Challow Hurdle win is quite working out as well as one would have thought it would. He can be keen and has quite a few trends to overcome here as well though. Battleoverdoyen is the one to beat, but there is every reason for thinking Sams Profile can at least get much closer to Battleoverdoyen than he did when second to him at Naas. He was hampered at a crucial juncture that day, but stayed on strongly to finish second. His trainer Mouse Morris is always to be respected in this race, he won it with First Lieutenant and Venalmar hit the frame also, so I believe Sam’s Profile can outrun his odds here.
Tiger Roll is obviously going to be extremely difficult to beat, as his win over hurdles at Navan last time showed he is bang in form. He is a short enough price in a race where plenty can go wrong though and that’s why I’m going to go with Auvergnat each-way. Auvergant turned the usually competitive Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown into a procession at Christmas and if he can transfer that improvement to the Cross Country game, then he will give Tiger Roll a right race. He looks a really solid each-way bet for me.
Envoi Allen is the one to beat and should relish getting soft ground for the first time, but Ask For Glory makes plenty of each-way appeal for Paul Nicholls who has his string in rude health. He has a strong crop of bumper horses this season, with a strike rate of 34% (13-38) and Ask For Glory will have no issues with the easy ground. He was extremely impressive in winning his point to point and had a horse now rated 130 behind in third that day. He was equally as impressive when winning his bumper at Chepstow on soft ground and were he to step up on that form here, he would be extremely difficult to keep out of the frame.