STONE MASON is taken to win what is surely the most eagerly-awaited 0-65 handicap of all time! Stone Mason attracted support on his handicap debut at Newbury on his most recent start in August, and though he could only finish seventh he shaped better than the bare result.
That race has since worked out well, with three of the first four home winning subsequently, and this drop back in trip is expected to suit. He looks well placed to open his account at the first time of asking for new trainer Michael Appleby.
MUTASAAMY showed much improved form to get off the mark at the fifth attempt, on just his second start in handicaps, at Kempton last summer.
The fact that he remains under the tutelage of Roger Varian, and in the colours of Hamdam Al Maktoum, says plenty about the regard in which he is held. There is every chance he will rise through the ranks as a four-year-old, starting with victory here.
BOND’S BOY broke his maiden at the first time of asking in taking fashion at Redcar in August, forging clear. He thenbacked that up with a good third in a valuable sales event at Newmarket two months later.
He looks a useful prospect open to plenty of improvement, and, with a couple of runs now under his belt, he is taken to defy a penalty at the main expense of other penalized winners Ejtilaab and Little Red Socks.
ART POWER made an encouraging start to his career when third on debut over this course and distance, before showing much improved form to get off the mark at York in October – running to a useful level and seemingly passing the post full of running. He is an exciting prospect who will take the beating here.
YOUSINI failed to win last season, but looked back somewhere close to his best when fifth in a Southwell handicap in November. He is back up in trip here and looks to be on a good mark on the pick of his form, so he is taken to make his tapeta debut a winning one.
Heath Charnock ought to give a good account now back over six furlongs, while course specialist Tathmeen is another worth consideration.
ROCK OF DIAMONDS made a promising start to his career when runner-up in a Lingfield novice in February, leading inside the final furlong only to be headed late on. He went backwards somewhat when third at Wolverhampton the following month, but his opening mark looks a fair one based on his debut form.
Shoot To Kill is yet to match his best form in handicaps but has been gelded since his last run and could yet be of interest.
INDIAN SOUNDS offered plenty to work on when runner-up at this venue in February on his first start for Paul Midgley, catching the eye with a strong finish after encountering a troubled passage. He was also far from disgraced when fifth in a stronger event the following month.
He’s the type of recruit that Midgley typically does well with, and he looks to be on a handy mark on the pick of his all-weather form. Eric Alston’s Fox Hill is also worth noting in a typically competitive sprint handicap.
ICE PYRAMID wasn’t seen to best effect when finishing runner-up at Lingfield in January, but quickly got back on the up when making it two wins from his last three runs with victory over this course and distance in February.
He is 7lb higher now but is an upwardly-mobile five-year-old who looks up to defying such a rise, and he is taken to enhance his excellent record at this venue.
FRANKLY DARLING, a daughter of Frankel and closely related to the smart First In Line, made plenty of appeal on paper prior to her debut at Yarmouth in October.
She showed plenty of promise to finish runner-up, holding the lead briefly over two furlongs out but was unable to quicken with the winner over the last half-furlong. She is likely to improve further now stepped up in trip and she is the one they all have to beat.
BYZANTINE EMPIRE was very slowly away on debut and looked badly in need of the experience in the early stages at Kempton, but he ended up shaping with considerable encouragement, making significant headway to finish runner-up.
He failed to improve on that effort when finishing down the field at Sandown in September, with another slow start not helping his cause. But, he is bred to be smart and has plenty about him physically, so he should have more to offer.
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