A field of newcomers, and the betting should reveal plenty, but John Gosden’s KING LEO looks a very likely sort on paper – a half-brother to smart two-year-old 5f winner Soldier’s Call, out of a winner at two – and is taken to provide him with another winner. Surprise Exhibit and Golden Flame also have plenty going for them so merit respect.
A well-related individual, AJAX TAVERN did well to overcome a wide draw and get off the mark at the first attempt at Lingfield on New Year’s Eve, keeping on well to clear away. Progress rates highly likely and he is fancied to make a bold bid to follow up. Newbolt, who scored at Chelmsford in November is feared, along with newcomer’s Daniel Deronda and Baashir who complete the shortlist.
A clutch of interesting sorts and preference among them is for John Gosden’s son of Kingman LEAD SINGER. He is bred to be useful, a half-brother to two-year-old 6f winner San Donato, and the yard have had a few above-average types that have made a winning debut in the last week. Arctic Vega was a ready debut winner and looks the one to chase him home ahead of Willie Haggas’ debutant Al Qaasim.
A highly-competitive handicap in which marginal preference is for GLEN FORCE. Sir Mark Prescott’s twice-raced son of Gleneagles appeals as the sort to improve a fair bit now upped in trip for his handicap bow. The yard had a similar type make a winning reappearance at Newcastle last week and he makes the most appeal here. Dick Datchery heads the list of dangers along with hat-trick seeking Mountain Brave and Where’s Mick.
JUMIRA BRIDGE’s strike rate isn’t the most convincing, but he’s slipped to a handy mark on the pick of his form so earns a tentative vote for a yard whose horses are starting to hit form. Astro Jakk should be competitive at the very least if transferring the form he showed on fibresand earlier in the year to grass. Jonah Jones had a tough time last season, but is starting to look quite well treated on some of his juvenile form.
David O’Meara holds a strong hand with MUSCIKA and Intisaab. The latter shaped very well when only just failing at Newmarket on Friday but preference is for Muscika, who could get an easy time of things out in front and this track can suit prominent runners. Call Me Ginger is the potential improver in the field after a promising three-year-old campaign.
It’s worth taking a chance on KALOOR in a wide-open affair. He was a bit disappointing for Brian Meehan last term but could capitalise on a reduced mark now starting out for a new stable. It will interesting to see how he fares in the market for a shrewd stable. Be More and Brian Epstein, in contrast, were going the right way when last seen and further progress would put them in the shake-up.
An intriguing fillies’ handicap, featuring several promising types. BEAUTIFUL ILLUSION, winner of both starts to date on the all-weather, is armed with plenty of potential now moving into handicap company and she is top of the shortlist. She showed a good attitude to prevail over a mile last time, and seems sure to be well suited by this step back up in trip. Finery is feared most, though Salsada and Virgin Snow are also of interest.
The ones with experience don’t set an exacting standard and newcomers ROBERTO ESCOBARR and Fiesta de Vega both make plenty of appeal on paper and are expected to come to the fore in this maiden. Preference is for the former, who boasts a particularly appealing pedigree and the hint should be taken if the market speaks in his favour. Will Sommers shaped nicely on debut and, along with My Vision and Isola Bella May, is open to improvement.
CELESTIAL BLISS showed enough promise at Ayr eight months ago to think he’s capable of winning this sort of event even with the presence of some interesting rivals, such as newcomers Coincidence and Albaflora. Our Girl Sheila also made an encouraging debut last season, so she’s another one to consider.
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