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A chance is taken on LOUGH DERG SPIRIT whose victory at Wetherby has since been followed by wind surgery. The yard have had three of the last eight winners of this contest and that record can be enhanced here though stablemate Turtle Wars will be a tough rival.
A real puzzle in round two and not much to recommend here on current form. It is hoped that PAIN AU CHOCOLAT can put his previous two runs this season behind him and come back to something approaching the form of last season. If he can, he is overpriced and has a chance of taking us unscathed to round three.
It is no exaggeration to say that this is a stellar renewal of this contest. Bag's Grove has gone from strength to strength this season, The Worlds End was excellent at Cheltenham last time out but SANTINI is the standout in the race. His only defeat under rules came in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival and this is another chance to underline his status as a future star of the staying chase division.
A recent run-out for the Sue Smith trained WAKANDA may just give him the edge in this contest. Danny Cook often gives his mounts a positive spin and that could prove important as his front running style will be suited here.
This should prove to be a walk-in-the-park for the dual winner of the Unibet Champion Hurdle, the massively impressive scorer in The Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and quite simply the best two mile hurdler in the world. Step forward BUVEUR D'AIR and expect to see another slick display of speed and hurdling.
Even though SAKHEE'S CITY is top weight here, he has won around Wetherby before and has in fact, won off this mark too. His form this season has been disappointing but it would be no surprise to see him bounce back here in a race that will be hotly contested.
This is about as tight a King George as there has been in recent years. The big question around POLITOLOGUE is whether he'll stay the trip but connections are bullish. He's got plenty of speed and will relish the challenge here. Might Bite, Native River and Bristol de Mai are all worthy rivals but the selection gets the nod.