Dual bumper winner Flic Ou Voyou wasted what looked a good opportunity to get off the mark over the smaller obstacles at Taunton last time, but his form previous form reads well in the context of this race.
He is taken to belatedly get his head in front at the expense of Palladium, who confirmed his hurdling debut promise when a ready winner over this course and distance at the start of the month.
First Flow made a positive start over fences this campaign, finishing runner-up on his first two starts in this sphere before landing the odds in commanding fashion at Hereford last month.
He shaped much better than the bare result when third at Ascot last time, possibly disadvantaged by racing on the unfavoured inner part of the track. He should be able to improve past his current mark and get back to winning ways here.
After unable to fully sustain his effort when picked off late on in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot, Call Me Lord went one better at Cheltenham next time, making the most of a good opening at the weights to edge the race in the final furlong.
He’s a smart hurdler, as well as a three-time course winner here, so gets the vote to enhance his ever-growing reputation.
Laurina made a highly satisfactory winning start over fences when a runaway winner at Gowran in November, but ran no sort of race when pulled up in the Racing Post Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown last month.
A string of novicey mistakes ensured she was never able to get competitive on her last outing but, given her overall profile, she looks worth a chance to make amends and get her Cheltenham bid back on track.
A dual winner in novice company, Ask Ben has shaped very well in both his handicaps starts since returning to action in November. He moved through the race as though ahead of his mark when fourth at Haydock, his lack of a previous run ultimately telling, and was denied a clear run after travelling powerfully through the race when second at Cheltenham last time.
He should be capable of winning off this mark and looks the one to be with in this high-end handicap.
Classic Ben showed improved form to land a sizeable gamble in this race last year off 1 lb lower and, having not been disgraced on both outings this term, another bold showing should be forthcoming. Dragon d’Estruval proved better than ever when winning at Ludlow last month and looks the main threat.
Generally progressive over hurdles, Iconic Muddle relished the step up in trip when second at Plumpton last time and, having been afforded a lenient opening mark, this race looks well within his remit. Lisa De Vassy appeals as the type to go on improving and will may offer the most opposition on what is also her handicap debut.