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SPOOF didn’t enjoy a very productive 2019, but his mark dropped as a result, and he took full advantage in the second half of last season, completing a hat-trick at Windsor and Sandown over this trip.
He clearly wasn’t 100 per cent when last seen at Wolverhampton, has gone well when fresh in the past, and could be worth chancing on his return to action in an open event. Militia returns on his last winning mark but his best efforts have largely come on soft ground, so Recon Mission, fit from the AW, is feared most.
John Gosden has won this race four times since 2015, including with the likes of So Mi Dar and Cracksman, so it is fair to say he likes to target it, and the team seem to have another very good chance in the shape of UNCLE BRYN.
He is related to some useful types and overcame inexperience to make a winning debut at Kempton in September in good style, learning as the race went on and showing a nice turn of foot when quickening into the lead inside the final furlong.
He didn’t need to improve to follow up at Wolverhampton in November, but there was still plenty to like about the manner of that success, and he is held in high regard looking at his entries. This looks the obvious next step and he should prove hard to beat.
HARROVIAN raced only four times last season, but still progressed into a smart performer in some top-end handicaps, and he looks the type who can improve again as a five-year-old given his pedigree and connections. This mark of 101 shouldn’t prove beyond him.
Blue Cup made a bright start for this yard last summer and is another who should have more to offer, while course and distance winners Victory Chime and Sky Defender also need considering in an intriguing handicap.
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There are several interesting sorts on show here but none have form in the book as strong as SILENT FILM. He finished a promising second to stablemate Highland Avenue – who has won twice since, including the Fielden Stakes at Newmarket last week – before going one place better at Lingfield last time.
He was strong in the market on that occasion and pulled clear of the remainder with another promising sort and there should be even more to come from him, so he is confidently selected to defy a penalty on his turf debut.
SOTO SIZZLER has a 100 per cent record over this course and distance, winning this race from a 9 lb lower mark in 2019 before following up in a good handicap on Derby Day later in the year. He missed all of 2020 and in his time off the track switched to David Menuisier.
Soto Sizzler looked rusty on his debut for this yard after 18 months off at Kempton last month, racing off the pace and unable to quicken with the principals in the business part of the race. He is fully entitled to sharpen up for that, though, and is of interest returned to this venue, while the booking of William Buick also catches the eye.
A typically competitive three-year-old handicap for the time of the year, but YEAR OF THE DRAGON may have been let in lightly for his handicap debut from a mark of 82. He barely needed to improve to land the odds on debut for William Knight at Kempton in January and shaped as well as any when third over a mile at Lingfield last time.
He wasn’t as well placed as the first two home, but finished with running left, while also leaving the impression that this longer trip will help unlock further improvement. Year of The Dragon has solid form and untapped potential so makes plenty of appeal switched to turf.
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