A fairly useful winner on the Flat, Pasley shaped encouragingly when runner-up at Punchestown on his hurdling debut in November. He failed to justify prohibitive odds when unable to get the better of one who was slicker in his hurdling at Cork last time, but his jumping looked much improved when posting his third consecutive second back at Punchestown last time. He shaped well on that occasion and perhaps would have finished closer had he not started his effort so far out. He looks to have been leniently treated by the assessor on his handicap debut in this sphere and a bold showing is anticipated from Joseph O’Brien’s charge at 2/1.
After ending last term with a magnificent victory in the Topham at Aintree, Cadmium had a bit to find in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown in December and that proved to be the case as he finished a well-beaten fifth of eight. Willie Mullins’ charge shaped similarly when again well held in the Irish Gold Cup last time, ultimately unable to cope with some top-class performers and possibly failing to see out the trip. However, this looks a more suitable task, dropping in both grade and distance, and he holds leading claims of landing this race for the second consecutive year at 9/4.
A winner at Navan in November, Bythesametoken has remained in largely consistent form since and was arguably a little unlucky not to finish closer to Muhaafiz when the pair met over C&D last time. Ross O’Sullivan’s charge struggled for a clear run between the final two flights and meets the winner on 5 lb better terms here, so he is taken to reverse the form and come out on top at 7/1.