*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
All the runners arrive in good form but the suggestion is progressive 4yo LOWER STREET, who followed her two autumn wins with a third in a valuable race over 1m3f here last month. The other 4yo, Cherokee Dance, is second choice but it’s also easy to make a good case for Deluxe Music, while La Hulotte can feature if she is suited by today’s surface switch.
Plenty in this field have been running well recently, including over C&D. MASQOOL is one of those but was denied the chance to show what he was truly capable of last time out, when he was a hot favourite but met repeated trouble in running in the closing stages. There’s no guarantee that he will receive better luck today from his wide draw but he appears to bring the most potential, along with Cusack who held him off so narrowly here in December. Oud Metha Bridge is also on the shortlist.
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The vote goes to DUCAL CROWN, who is very likely to build on her Kempton debut promise. The ex-French Albayaader (second choice) is respected, while Naasma, Ruby Ruby and Thewaytothestars are interesting newcomers. Any positive market moves should be heeded.
Social Contact and Kissininthebackrow are leading form contenders but they may not be bombproof, as the former was a beaten favourite last time and the latter is possibly a touch flattered by her 66-1 effort when always well placed. An interesting alternative is MAKAROVA, who looks open to plenty of improvement on her second start. Pluperfect is the second choice.
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Back over 7f, AL SUIL EILE may be the answer. He has won at this course in the last two Januarys and remains well handicapped. Breckland (second choice) and Red Jasper are similar types who warrant respect at the bottom of the weights, while Madrinho enters calculations with Hollie Doyle again on board and several others also have possibilities in an open race.
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On the back of his strong-finishing second in a 5f contest here 18 days ago, KIRITIMATI ISLAND (nap) could well go one better. He should relish this step back up in distance and looks open to further progress in handicaps. Second choice is Berkshire Phoenix, who has a solid chance in the retained cheekpieces. Gidwa, Thin Lizzy and Sandie’s Dream are also in the mix.
Having so many established handicappers in serious contention makes it tempting to turn instead to the unexposed handicap debutante AL SHOUGHOR. Second on the list is Asadjumeirah ahead of Equitation and Airshow, but this looks fiercely competitive, with every runner in with a shout.
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