Lord Halifax got back on the up in no uncertain terms returned to the all-weather at Kempton last time and looks a good bet to follow up turned out under a penalty. He had previously shaped well on the tapeta at Wolverhampton and, though disappointing on handicap debut returned to turf after, he looked well ahead of his mark returned to a synthetic surface. He should be backed accordingly to follow up.
This looks an open handicap in which another chance should be given to Reine de Vitesse, who proved disappointing on handicap debut at Chelmsford last time from what looked a lenient opening mark. However, she didn’t shape as badly as the bare result suggests on that occasion and was impressive over this C&D the time before, so is forgiven that run and can get back on the up now.
There are some risks attached with backing Highland Acclaim, but he goes particularly well round here – and could prove too classy for these. He landed back-to-back handicaps at this venue at the beginning of the year, either making all or ridden prominently on both occasions, and there isn’t much pace in this race on paper. David Probert knows him well and a bold bid is on the cards breaking from a good draw in stall 4.
Lady of Aran quickly bounced back to form when returned to the all-weather at Kempton last time and she looks well handicapped now having not been raised in the weights. That was a career-best effort, doing especially well to finish as close as she did after starting her effort in the straight from last position. Her closing sectional was eye-catching there and a repeat of that effort will see her hard to beat here.
Dubious Affair sets the form standard, but she is starting to look exposed now, and Merry Vale looks a far more interesting proposition. She shaped well on debut when runner-up to a useful type and, though she failed to progress at Doncaster last time, she is worth another chance to confirm that original promise. This doesn’t look the deepest race and it will be disappointing if she isn’t bang in the mix.
Subliminal was well backed after five weeks off when finishing third over a mile here last time, beaten less than a length. He was unlucky not to justify market confidence, too, travelling fluently when shaken up on the home turn and meeting trouble in-running over a furlong out. Subliminal lost momentum on the pair that beat him and makes plenty of appeal from just 1lb higher with the leading all-weather rider Ben Curtis taking over in the saddle.
Preference is for Gottardo, who has been knocking firmly on the door of late and remains on a workable mark. Huddle is bound to attract support following her recent C&D success, but whether she’ll be able to back that up remains to be seen. Bigger threats may be posed by Pearl Spectre, who is now 16lb lower than when winning at Chelmsford in January, and Noble Peace.
12:10 Lord Halifax
12:40 Reine de Vitesse
13:10 Highland Acclaim
13:40 Lady of Aran
14:10 Merry Vale
* All odds correct at time of posting.