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Top of the list is DIVINE CONNECTION (NAP), who got back in groove when forging clear over course and distance 21 days ago and can strike again off her revised mark to make it 2-3 for her current yard.
Gonzaga has had three close calls here in his last four starts and he’s feared most, though One Step Beyond looks interesting with a visor added on his drop back in trip. The other one on the shortlist is Where Next Jo, who still has potential and needs checking in the market on her comeback.
Zwelela scored with plenty in hand at Lingfield 17 days ago and is strongly respected off 9lb higher here, but there are several interesting handicap newcomers in opposition. Both Elakazaam and the returning Choritzo are open to more progress, but the vote goes to Mark Johnston’s CUBAN DANCER.
He travelled well for a long way when a clear second in a course and distance maiden last Monday and looks well treated if he can build on that.
Asdaa is unexposed at this trip and was a creditable third behind an improver over course and distance 16 days ago. He’s respected along with course specialist Critical Thinking, who has held his form well since his last win in December and should give it another good shot back up in trip.
However, the vote goes to the handicap newcomer VANITY AFFAIR, who chased home a very useful rival in a 1m 2f Chelmsford novice in January and still has plenty of potential after only three starts.
The leading contender is CADEAU D’OR, who ran well in all of his three starts last season and sets a useful standard on his return. Tampere is the main form danger and she’s feared most on her stable debut, though Lostwithiel overcame inexperience when scoring at Bath last September and has plenty of scope for progress. Another with each-way claims is bumper winner Steel An Icon, who kept on well to finish second in a 1m 4f Southwell novice last month.
This may well be a golden opportunity for MACK THE KNIFE to gain his fourth win this year. He’s not only in good form, he’s improving, and the first of those wins was gained in smooth style over C&D. Easily the most plausible rival is Lady Elysia and she would probably be a serious rival too if sufficiently primed for this first run since October.
Dirty Rascal went close over 7 furlongs at Doncaster on his recent stable debut and is a big player if he can transfer that form to Tapeta. But, the slight preference is for GOBI SUNSET, who made all at Newcastle on Friday and looks well treated under a penalty for that dominant display.
Third on the list is course winner Spirited Guest, who didn’t get the breaks at Chelmsford on his return last month and is on a dangerous mark on his step back up in trip.
Preference is for EHRMANN, who left his two-year-old debut form well behind when a clear-cut winner over 5 furlongs at Southwell last month and is a major player again under a penalty on this switch to Tapeta.
Atiyah’s standout effort last season was a narrow defeat over course and distance, and she’s feared most on her return to action. Third choice is Kath’s Toyboy, who has also had a near miss at this track and has claims if he can find some improvement on his drop back in trip.
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