This is a tight call between the leading form contenders Victory Heights and BILLIAN. The former has had tough tasks in Listed/Group company in his last two starts and is respected on his first run after wind surgery, but Billian is also back in calmer waters after his creditable effort in a valuable 6f sales race at York and he gets the vote for a yard that won this in 2018. Both Madreselva and Thornaby Pearl have each-way claims, while Richard Fahey’s two newcomers need checking in the market.
Top of the list is AIR TO AIR, who has shown clear promise from off the pace in AW novice events and has plenty of scope for further progress upped to 7f on his nursery debut. Second choice is Babe Alicious, who steps up 2f in trip in her first nursery and looks a likely improver for a powerful yard. Kats Bob is third on the list, though another nursery newcomer Time For A Good Un ran a promising race at 1m last time and has claims if he can build on that with blinkers added.
Having met plenty of trouble and returned injured when third at York on his latest start, Trinity Lake is very much one to consider, but a chance is taken with the ex-French AL ARESH who is well treated on his best form and makes his debut for David O’Meara.
A case can be made for a lot of these but if there’s an improver in the line-up it’s probably LEXINGTON FORCE, who has shaped with plenty of promise in a couple of AW novice events at Kempton and could easily be ahead of this opening mark now switching to turf. Turntable, who has won twice already over a straight 1m this year, had soft ground as an excuse last time and may provide the main threat. Dawaaleeb’s latest Thirsk form looks solid and he’s also on the shortlist.
An open race in which the vote goes to KIND REVIEW, who is unexposed as a sprinter and travelled strongly for a long way when a close third off the same mark over C&D last time. Buniann has been an eyecatcher from off the pace in his last three runs and is feared most on his step back up in trip, though Infinite Grace finished just behind the selection here 17 days ago and she’s respected. The other one on the shortlist is triple course winner Buccaneers Vault, who has claims if this sets up for his closing style.
A short-odds defeat on AW for PRAISED last month was clearly disappointing but her Yarmouth debut promise is still fresh in the memory and she’s worth another chance back on turf. Roong Roong hasn’t achieved a great deal when placed the last twice, while Leapers Wood has questions to setting out for another new trainer so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the main threat came from very well-bred newcomer Golden Love.
The 7f AW handicap which DESERT PALMS was fourth in on his reappearance in June has worked out well and he could prove the answer to the second division of this 6f novice now dropping back in trip for new trainer Paul Midgley. Mecca’s Hot Steps looks the obvious danger unless the betting speaks in favour of well-bred newcomer Wallgate.
This can go to David Brown’s 3yo BEN LILLY (nap), who found stacks of improvement upped to 1m6f when scoring by 9l in a Catterick handicap last Tuesday and is very well treated under a penalty for that runaway success. The main danger is the other penalised runner Flash Point, who put in a dominant display with cheekpieces added off a reduced mark at Musselburgh nine days ago. Others with each-way claims are Nearly There and Artistic Streak.
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