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Easily the most persuasive option is STARFIGHTER, who has clocked up a fine sequence of two wins and three seconds from his last five starts. He has proved himself over course and distance in the process.
Corked also goes well at this track but she has not raced since November, which looks a stumbling block judged on her returns to action in 2019 and 2020. If she is lacking for fitness this time round, Hotspur Harry may pose a greater danger.
Khezaana’s debut form sets the standard, but she failed to reproduce that when switched to all-weather later in the autumn, so this may be the right opening for AL NEFUD following his promising first run last month. Bay Bridge is also in the mix.
Frankenstella was a stayer to follow last season and probably has more to give, but this is her reappearance and preference is for RARE GROOVE. He ran so well over course and early last month following a long lay-off. Caribeno is not dismissed despite the higher mark and his winning sequence having ended last time.
In-form course specialist GREAT COLACI looks the most solid option. Zeimaam finished five places behind him over course and disance three weeks ago but is feared most, having travelled sweetly for a long way on that first run for his new connections. Lion Tower is third on the list.
Aerion Power is surely capable of bettering his authoritative 7-furlong Class 4 Wolverhampton win. However, assuming that he takes the switch to the all-weather in his stride and is none the worse for a fine effort in the Class 2 Royal Mile Handicap at Musselburgh on Saturday, Mark Johnston’s well-treated FOREST FALCON (NAP) sets a particularly high benchmark.
This is a weak race. Harswell Princess, who has course and distance form with Don’t Tell Dj, has shown improvement since sent handicapping and ought to be positively involved if able to overcome her draw in Stall 1, while Kodiac Brown Bear is another to consider.
However, Grant Tuer’s CATHAYENSIS makes her handicap debut at a realistic level and she shaped reasonably on her return to the track at Wolverhampton when 6 furongs which looked inadequate for her.
A very bold show last time demonstrated that Captainofthebounty might yet break his duck in this realistic line-up, while Toofi’s close call at Kempton three weeks ago suggested that an improvement in his 1-48 strike-rate is not a forlorn hope. HIGHLIGHT REEL, however, could thwart those hopes if he reappears in the same sort of form he was in last autumn.
February’s course and distance scorer Royal Advice should appreciate returning to 6 furlongs and could still have the measure of Elladora and Blue Hero. However, he faces some interesting rivals in the shape of Ginato on his debut for Roger Fell and CARBON POSITIVE, who has shown enough to be worth considering on his handicap debut.
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