Agent Westy showed much improved form to get off the mark at Fontwell last time, despite still looking rough around the edges. He was labouring before half-way and briefly looked to be in danger of losing touch.
He picked up strongly to win by nine lengths, scoring in the style of a horse with plenty still to offer.
That was just his second start over fences so he should benefit from the experience and put up a more polished performance on Monday. Wenceslaus shaped nicely on his chasing debut at Stratford, making eye-catching late headway, and he appeals as the main danger.
Grand Rock handles testing ground well and had a bit more in hand at Epsom last time than the winning margin of a neck would suggest.
Freyja, Wyclif and King Carney are interesting, unexposed opponents, but the William Haggas-trained Grand Rock has taken a big step forward with each run, has the best form on offer and will relish the emphasis on stamina.
Ho he gets the vote in a race that should pose a stiff test for the two-year-olds.
Country’n’Western didn’t have the speed to make an impact over 1¼m at Nottingham last time, but he wasn’t disgraced over a trip short of his best and should fare better up in distance.
He has been eased another 3lb and is down to a rating 5lb below the mark he defied at Southwell last year, so is clearly fairly treated. This is a competitive handicap and there are plenty of dangers, including the likes of soft-ground specialist Milan Reef and last-time-out winner King Athelstan.
However, Country’n’Western showed enough at Nottingham to suggest he is in decent form and offers each-way value at a decent price in a race where Paddy is paying the first 4 home.
*Prices correct a time of publishing