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CREATIVE FORCE resumed his progress after 10 months off to make a successful handicap debut over this course and distance at the Craven meeting, overcoming a positional bias to land the spoils by a length-and-three-quarters (value for extra).
He remains open to more improvement after only three starts and is fancied to defy an 8lbs higher mark to follow up. If You Dare looks on a good mark for his handicap debut and is feared most ahead of Bickerstaffe.
BELL ROCK had valid excuses when last seen finishing down the field in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot, so he is better judged on the form he showed when third in the Cambridgeshire over this course and distance on his previous start. That added to his excellent record at Newmarket, which is the scene of both his previous career wins.
The most recent of them came on his reappearance last season, so he clearly goes well fresh and must be of interest here with a good-value claimer taking over in the saddle. Bright Melody and Starcat head the list of dangers.
CAME FROM THE DARK is fancied to make a successful transition to pattern company in a Group 3 in which there is no standout contender on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings. The style of his success in a strong handicap at Newbury last time suggested that he would be at home at this level, and he could still have a bit more to offer. Judicial has been a fixture in this race in recent years and should go well again, while Lazuli must also enter calculations despite carrying a 3lbs penalty.
PYLEDRIVER sprang a surprise at Royal Ascot last season, but showed there was absolutely no fluke about that success when bolting up in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival – running to a very smart level to defy a Group 2 penalty with plenty in hand.
He’s closely matched on ratings with Sir Ron Priestley, but has more speed than that rival and that gives him the edge here. Al Zaraqaan is taking a hike in class, but is firmly on the up and rates another fascinating contender.
THUNDER MOON wasn’t seen to best effect when third in the Dewhurst Stakes at this course in October, possibly making his effort earlier than ideal out wide after again impressing with how he went through the race.
He remains with potential and is well worth another chance to confirm the promise of his earlier victory in the National Stakes at the Curragh, where he showed an impressive turn of foot to beat Wembley readily by a length-and-a-half. Wembley filled the runner-up spot in both those races and looks sure to be thereabouts once again, leaving stablemate Battleground to complete the shortlist.
GREAT AMBASSADOR improved again after a switch of yards to make a winning reappearance at Kempton last month, seeming well suited by a strongly-run race at the trip. He should prove equally effective back on turf and remains very much one to follow from only 7lbs higher in the weights, with the booking of Tom Marquand also giving cause for plenty of optimism. Fellow last-time-out winners Raaeb and Embour are fancied to emerge as the chief threats.
SECRET PROTECTOR showed smart form when filling the runner-up spot in the Feilden Stakes at the Craven meeting, pulling clear of the rest and shaping like more of a stayer than the winner. He has improved by the run and will be suited by the slightly longer trip here, so this looks a good opportunity for him to resume winning ways before a potential tilt at the Derby further down the line.
Mohaafeth, who won a handicap over this course and distance at the same meeting, is feared most ahead of the improving Inigo Jones.
MAGICAL LAND shaped better than the bare result when second in a maiden at the Craven meeting, doing well to finish as close as he did after being left with too much to do. That was only third start and his first after nine months off, so there should be more to come from him now stepping up to a mile on his handicap debut.
An opening BHA mark of 87 certainly looks fair. Forest Falcon and Zwelela are others who might have a say in proceedings.
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