Patrick Weaver says: "Willie Mullins' Vauban is favourite 3.052/1 coming off second best to Pied Piper 4.77/2 when they made their hurdling debuts at Punchestown on New Year's Eve.
"Pied Piper then came over for the Triumph Hurdle trial, taking that comfortable from Moka De Vassy and Forever William. It would be no exaggeration to say he barely knew he had been in a race, such was the ease with which he won.
"Vauban stayed in Ireland for the Grade 1 Spring Hurdle, winning that by three lengths from Pied Piper's stable mate Fil d'Or 7.06/1 and Il Etait Temps 15.014/1.
Best of the Brits is the Gary Moore-trained Porticello 14.013/1, winner of the Gr1 Finale at Chepstow. The feeling reflected in their relative odds is that the Irish form is stronger than the English, so it looks like another win for Ireland - and I think for Elliott."
Lay Vauban @ 3.211/5
Kevin Blake says: "The six-year-old Gua Du Large has the right sort of profile for this race being a relatively unexposed sort.
"We haven't seen much of him this season, but the last time we did he won a valuable handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, coming from last to first to grab the verdict close home. The form of that race has worked out quite well in his absence and the British handicapper hasn't been overly tough on him by giving him a 4lb higher mark than his Irish rating.
"A strongly-run race will suit his style and he should get that here. Henry De Bromhead's horses have been acquitting themselves well all week and hopefully this fella will add to that."
Back Gau Du Large each-way, 7 places, @ 34.033/1
Alan Dudman says: "Top Bandit looks a horse primed off a good mark of 139, although backing Gordon Elliott's horses this week has been a disappointing exercise. Yes, he's had winners, and at 50/1 with Commander Of Fleet, those that find that one are well in credit, but some have performed very poorly.
"Hopefully his handicap debutant will show his worth, as he looks the sort of horse that needs a big field. He idled a bit last time winning comfortably at Punchestown, but that was back in early December and he's been put away since then.
His experience of winning at Cheltenham at the October meeting will stand him in good stead as he looked a strong stayer at the trip on that occasion and jumped well. He drifted quite alarmingly on the Sportsbook last night, but I don't mind that at 14/1, especially with the Extra Place.
Back Top Bandit @ 15.014/1
Bryony Frost says: "There's a very strong Irish team in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, but a lot of people will be rooting for the giant Hillcrest, who has been impressive all season for Henry Daly.
"Chasing is obviously going to be Hillcrest's game before too long, and I can't wait to see him over a fence, but he's pretty good over hurdles too and has already won at Cheltenham. A lot of them have to prove themselves at three miles, but he won over the trip at Haydock last time and looks sure to run a big race."
Back Hillcrest @ 4.67/2
Tony Calvin says: "The Sportsbook are paying an extra place on the race but I am going to back Tornado Flyer win-only as, although he has never fallen (so I may be being very harsh here), I never think this horse is too far away from a tumble. That was certainly the case early doors in the King George last time, when he had me getting the prayer mat out after a couple of dicey early leaps, but of course we all know how well he warmed to his task, and made the most of a pace collapse to come through and sluice in.
"If people think he was lucky there then they are making a big mistake I feel, as I simply think this horse has always shaped like a stayer and been campaigned over the wrong trip until now. That Kempton run was only his second attempt over 3m, and his progression once stepped up in trip should not surprise given the way he has shaped in many of his races, notably when third in the Ryanair here last season.
"Of course, he has got an extra 2f or so more to travel here on a stiffer track (another reason for going win only perhaps) but I just think it will bring more improvement out of him. I am paying to find out anyway."
Back Tornado Flyer @ 13.012/1
Paul Nicholls says: "He was travelling strongly in this race a year ago until unseating Sean Bowen three from home. I'm sure he would have been involved at the finish but for that mishap and he gained compensation with a brilliant victory in the Foxhunters at Punchestown with the help of a great ride by David Maxwell.
"Bob And Co wasn't suited by the slow pace on his comeback on heavy ground at Haydock but was keeping on stoutly at the finish and that outing has put him spot on. I've trained him for this race and feel he has a sound chance."
Back Bob And Co @ 6.86/1
Tony Calvin says: "I am keen to take on the three market leaders for various reasons and the rain that came on Wednesday was great news for Zambella. All her form has come on soft or deeper, and she was still in there pitching when falling 3 out (the 28/1 chance was trading at 5.2 at the time) in this race last year.
"The only blemish on her recent dance card was a defeat over 2m on good to soft at Leicester, but connections thought the race came too soon for her there, and she has been given a break since dotting up at Uttoxeter last time.
"She clearly has to improve here but I like her form trajectory, and she has good time credentials on her Aintree win in December."
Zambella at 12.011/1 or bigger in 16:50
Chris Loader says: "The one that my eye has been drawn to is the Gordon Elliott trained Hollow Games, who will be making his handicap debut off a mark of 143 which could prove to be lenient. This six-year-old gelding seems to fit the profile for this race and he was not disgraced when finishing third in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
"He has always been highly regarded after he showed plenty of promise in bumpers last season and he has transitioned well over hurdles after being kept in graded company, which plenty of his rivals wouldn't have experienced. I think in time he could be a top class staying chaser, but he appears to have been primed for this and I believe he can give Elliott a third winner in this race."
Back Hollow Games to win @ 8.07/1
Daryl Carter says: "Langer Dan 6.05/1 is likely to be overlooked for something at a flashier price in the Martin Pipe. Still, his performance in this race last year when bumping into subsequent Grade 1 winner and all-round monster Galopin Des Champs deserved a big upgrade after having to come from an unpromising position. That is the fear, given horses have not done well from off the pace this week, but he could be so well-handicapped that it might not prove beyond him.
"He was remarkably dropped for his "pipe opener" at Taunton and now is just two pounds higher than last season's run, and he is surely worthy of a rating of 145 plus, and this "plot job" can go one better than 2021."
Back Langer Dan @ 6.05/1
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