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There may still be a bit more to come from IMPERIUM BLUE, whose recent form stacks up nicely and who should benefit from this step back up in distance. He looks solid and is taken to beat Sir Benedict, who is interesting back on slower ground. Glinbury and Gaelic Secret are open to improvement.
The debut promise shown by ENCHANTED NIGHT earns her the vote, while Immaculate and Media Guest are the other main players on form. Tipperary Tiger, Bradley Hall and Hoodwinker are all interesting newcomers who need to be monitored closely in the betting.
Young Fire cannot be discarded despite the big rise in the weights, but MOLLS MEMORY is well treated on her form with him last autumn and she looked back to her best when winning at Newbury recently. Tomfre can also be involved, while it will be interesting to see if there is a market move for Kynren now back at 7 furlongs. Ebury is also considered on his best form this year, but Tranchee and Punchbowl Flyer have more to prove than some regarding their stamina.
Brando richly deserves compensation for his narrow Ascot defeat, but stiff finishes suit him well these days and a tendency to start slowly raises questions as to whether he will be at his best here. The excellent GULLIVER could hardly have been more impressive at York and, with the likely strong pace and granted a clear passage, he has a big run in him on a track that should suit.
Dakota Gold has other front-runners to see off, but he is another with plenty going for him despite the penalty. Air Raid looked his old self at Haydock and is also considered, along with Ostilio, who is feeling his way over a new trip.
Freyja and ANNA NERIUM (NAP) carry a penalty for a Listed win and have only recently demonstrated their stamina for 1m 2f, but both saw the trip out well on testing ground and they look the most likely to emerge in front at this finish, with Anna Nerium selected to master her rival late on. The issues are more complicated among the rest, who mostly need improvement, with the progressive Moonlight In Paris perhaps the most interesting.
There is surely improvement to come from second-time starter BANNA, who is closely related to last year’s QEII winner King Of Change and a half-sister to the stable’s smart miler Century Dream. Super Den is respected on form and Dream Round also enters the reckoning. The two William Haggas-trained newcomers need to be watched closely in the betting.
Having already covered himself in glory this autumn, EUCHEN GLEN can acquire some more despite his top weight and lofty mark. On To Victory could be interesting with the return to soft ground and he is second on the list ahead of Kingbrook who, with a major 1m 4f win already, is preferred among the three-year-olds to the seriously unexposed Eagle Court. Four-year-old Sam Cooke is another with clear potential, while Hiroshima and Torcello could also go well in what looks a particularly warm renewal.
This competitive finale may go to WITH RESPECT, who has got better in handicaps with each drop in his mark and finished third at Newbury most recently. He’s taken to build on that effort and add to his two-year-old success.
The selection has low mileage and looks less exposed overall than most, while the booking of Ray Dawson is a big plus. Second choice is recent course and distance scorer Flying Pursuit, ahead of his in-form stablemate Ugo Gregory. Several others also have possibilities, including Masked Identity and Get Knotted who were placed in a 7-furlong handicap at Newmarket last Saturday.
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