MOUNT LOGAN won a Listed race here last May on his seasonal debut and his outstanding course record just gives him the edge in a competitive heat. Spark Plug was an impressive winner of the Cambridgeshire last season and he made a pleasing comeback when third at Newmarket last month, where Abdon was close behind. The latter remains open to further improvement and he may well reverse that form today, while Tullius is also noted.
BILLESDON BROOK and Madeline both showed ability on their racecourse debuts and that experience gives them a big edge today. The former gets the nod today because the form of her Salisbury third-placed finish is marginally stronger than the latter's Ascot run. This race is full of interesting newcomers and it would be no surprise to see a few give the selection plenty to think about, with Sardenya and Salty Sugar arguably the pick of them.
A cracking handicap with endless chances, headed by Top Score who came home less than 4l behind Churchill when seventh in the 2000 Guineas. Moving back into handicap company is an intriguing decision but he must surely go well with George Wood's 5lb claim making life easier. However, a chance is taken with HYDE PARK. Not seen since hacking up at Doncaster last autumn, the Gosden gelding looked an enticing prospect and may be able to defy his absence off a potentially attractive mark. Aardwolf, Horroob and Bless Him head a host of other possibles although the latter's case is not helped by being 5lb out of the handicap.
Roger Varian's string are currently in excellent form and the hugely likeable BARSANTI looks the one to take the beating. The son of Champs Elysees was one of the handicap success stories of 2016 having improved 35lb in the ratings and may yet have more to offer on only his twelfth start. Second Step shaped with promise on his return at Newbury in the John Porter so is respected, while Desert Encounter arrives having posted a career best at Ascot last time.
Batts Rock has some smart form to his name and remains open to much improvement on just his fifth career start, while The Cashel Man and Blakeney Point can be forgiven their Chester Cup displays in what was a messy contest. Oriental Fox rarely runs a bad race but TOP TUG has the best form on offer after just losing out to the classy Frontiersman at Newmarket recently and a repeat would probably be enough.
Pettochside won this contest 12 months ago but his recent performances suggest the handicapper has his measure for now. Preference is for MORACHE MUSIC, who has dropped to a workable mark and hinted his turn was approaching when third over 7f at Lingfield last time. Gold Club wasn't beaten far by Picture Dealer at Yarmouth last time and has place possibilities. Recent Windsor winner Englishman is respected, while Joe Packet has also slipped to a good mark, though he has an absence to overcome.
The tongue-tie applied to CONTENTMENT can see a return to form for William Haggas' filly and she tries seven furlongs for the second time having chased home the handy Poet's Vanity on her first attempt at the distance. Deleyla looks the main danger and is an interesting newcomer for the in-form Roger Varian, while Music Lesson drops back in trip and that is sure to suit having come unstuck, if not disgraced, when racing over a mile.
The relatively-unexposed ABDON can get the better of Spark Plug this time, and take this listed event en route to better things. Mount Logan and Tullius are respected also in quite a tight affair.
BILLESDON BROOK very much caught the eye on debut at Salisbury recently, held back by inexperience initially but very much getting the hang of things come the finish. She's open to significant improvement and can put that experience to good use. Missy Mischief and Salty Sugar are both appealing newcomers and need monitoring, whilst Madeline shouldn't be far away.
Stall 12 is a negative but other than that there is lots to like about HORROOB and if he can overcome his draw there is a good chance he can follow up his 2 Lingfield victories. Bless Him wasn't seen to best effect off a modest pace at Doncaster but this is likely to be strongly contested and he can go well. Aardwolf could also figure.
DESERT ENCOUNTER is the one definitely moving in the right direction, and he can take his second listed event of the month, despite having a small penalty. Second Step will be hard to beat however if back to his best on his second start for this yard, while Barsanti will be no pushover, either.
BATTS ROCK perhaps isn't the easiest to train given his very lightly-raced profile but there was plenty to like about his reappearance second at Ascot a couple of weeks ago and he's well worth a chance to build on it. Blakeney Point had excuses in the Chester Cup and could easily get back on the up now, while Oriental Fox showed he's still as good as ever when runner-up at Newmarket recently.
GOLD CLUB is holding his form well and could be the answer with Andrea Atzeni a positive booking. Morache Music went close at Lingfield last time and is 1 lb lower now, while Picture Dealer responded very well to positive tactics when winning at Yarmouth.
DELEYLA is an interesting newcomer in a race where the others have a bit to prove, so she is selected before market clues. Contentment is presumably thought capable of better given she's twice gone off favourite, and the fitting of a tongue tie could help her. Music Lesson doesn't set an exacting standard, and Forever Excel might be able to improve past her, also.