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The one that stands out is SPRING BLOOM, who made a bold bid to go close in a Class 4 event over C&D on his recent stable debut and is on the same mark on this drop back in grade. Most of the others have something to prove on one count or another but the generally reliable Katherine Place was a solid third at Brighton on her seasonal return and she’s feared most.
Top of the list is the well-bred SPRING IS SPRUNG, who made a promising start over C&D two weeks ago and sets a fair standard here for an in-form yard. Both Groom and Bolton Abbey ran well to a point in the same race at Nottingham and they are feared most in that order, though Robert Cowell’s newcomer Little Earl has a striking pedigree and he needs watching in the market.
Godolphin’s Last Light has a lot of stamina in his striking pedigree and is open to further progress at middle distances this season, but the same comment applies to Derby entry STAY WELL, who was an eyecatching second over 1m at Doncaster on his sole run last term and sets a fairly useful standard on that form. Others who need checking in the market are ex-Irish Gauntlet and Richard Hannon’s well-bred newcomer Fascinating Shadow.
An interesting race in which the vote goes to the progressive CLASSICAL WAVE (nap), who went close off only 1lb lower in his bid for an AW hat-trick 16 days ago and is a major player again if he can continue the good work back on turf. Recent Newcastle winner Hotspur Harry is feared most ahead of the returning Maiden Castle. Others to keep an eye on are Mordred, who is on a dangerous mark on his stable debut, and Water’s Edge, who has a record of 3-3 at this track.
Mitrosonfire finished well to get off the mark at Kempton in November and he’s respected on his return, but preference is for BILLY MILL, who beat an odds-on rival at Wolverhampton last month and has plenty of scope for further progress back at 6f in his first handicap. Southwell scorer Ancient Times looks interesting upped in trip on his handicap/stable debut, while the other one on the shortlist is C&D winner Hot Scoop, who is on a very dangerous mark on his reappearance.
The standout contender is LOCHANTHEM, who left her AW form behind when trouncing her rivals by 8l in a Yarmouth classified event last Tuesday. She looks very well treated under a penalty back in a handicap and should be hard to beat in her bid to make it 2-2 on turf. Wisper ran well from a tough draw in a 1m handicap at Kempton last time and she looks the pick of the opposition, though Adace has made late headway on her last two starts and is a possible improver on her step up to this trip.
Preference is for the well-bred and progressive filly GOLDIE HAWK, who is unbeaten in handicaps and may keep on improving for a while yet. Last week’s C&D winner Ranco is feared most. None of the other runners can be comfortably dismissed.
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