This Grade 1 race over 2m 7f 213y on good going. Thirteen runners take part for this winning bumper prize of £170,000 for horses aged four years and older.
The most successful horse since 1972 is Big Buck's with four wins, trained by Paul Nicholls, ridden by leading jockey Ruby Walsh and owned by The Stewart Family. Big Buck's reigned supreme from 2009 - 2012. An exceptional horse. Other major talents to win this race include three-timer Inglis Drever. Baracouda was another favourite who was successful on two occasions.
Last year saw Warren Greatrex with his bay gelding Cole Harden at odds of 14/1, staying on strongly to beat Saphir Du Rhea from Zarkandar. At Fisher's Cross, Whisper, Un Tempts Pour Tout & Lieutenant Colonel are similarly competing.
The relatively lightly raced Thistlecrack has made a name for himself this last year - an official rating of 135 to today's 168. This gelding has certainly come a long way since disappointing here in the Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle at seven. Colin Tizzard's charge looked very impressive when winning at Cheltenham (January), crushing Ptit Zig and others by twelve lengths. This is a step up in class but this son of Kayf Tara looks ready to take on all challengers although at 5/4 there seems little meat on the bone.
I will have a tentative each-way bet on Cole Harden to come back to his best.