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Daniel Thomas has been running riot on the all-weather in recent months and, although his winning sequence was halted in a C&D handicap last month, he regained the winning thread when upped to 1m2f and dropped down to plating level here latest. Another bold bid looks in the offing while he continues to operate in this grade, but marginal preference is for prolific all-weather winner RED SOMERSET, who gained a deserved victory when scoring at Wolverhampton latest and comes out marginally better at these weights. Hierarch has been running to his mark in handicaps and has place claims on these terms now eased in grade.
Jonnie Skull capitalised on a drop in grade to land a 0-50 at Wolverhampton last time but in this better race, preference is for FIBS AND FLANNEL, who was beaten by little over two lengths off this mark over this trip at Kempton last time and remains unexposed on polytrack. Ensnare let his supporters down last time at Kempton when he was part of an across-the-country gamble surrounding three runners representing John Butler, who rents boxes from Barney Curley's stable. Another market check is advisable as a consequence, while a big run from Princess Lexi cannot be ruled out, after a near miss off 2lb lower over C&D when last sighted.
ZA'LAN failed to build upon an eyecatching debut run when stepped up in trip over C&D at the weekend. Mark Johnston's representative made most of the running but looked in trouble some way out before finishing a poor second. Nevertheless, given he has been given a Derby entry, it is hoped there is better to come and he is given another chance. Life Of Laughter, who landed a 1m6f bumper at Huntingdon in November, is feared most on his Flat debut. Echoes Of Motivator is thoroughly exposed but could pick up some place money if putting his best foot forward.
ISHETOO has gone well fresh in the past and remains on a good mark now debuting for a new trainer. Peter Grayson has his string in much better order these days and his eight-year-old, who is unexposed on artificial surfaces, narrowly shades the vote ahead of Cliffords Reprieve, who rattled the crossbar over 6f here last month and will appreciate the return to this shorter trip. Jimmy Ryan is thriving at present and looks a big danger while seeking a hat-trick, likewise Ability N Delivery, who was beaten by less than a length at Dundalk last time and looks handicapped to strike anytime soon.
KICKINGTHELILLY built upon her maiden success at Southwell when defying a mark of 66 on her handicap bow at Kempton little over a week later. Rae Guest's representative has an 8lb rise to contend with here but remains open to improvement over both the trip and on this surface, and rates the one to beat with her well-being assured. Last-time-out winners Homeward Strut and Boots And Spurs have recently benefitted from the application of headgear and look the main dangers ahead of Mr Knightley, who is banking on a drop back in trip eliciting improvement.
AQUA ARDENS caused something of an upset when turning over an odds-on favourite from the John Gosden yard at Southwell last time and looks to have been handed a workable mark ahead of his handicap bow this afternoon. Caldercruix has been a model of consistency on the all-weather in recent months and, seemingly in the grips of the handicapper over 6f, looks worth another try over this longer trip. Dozy Joe, Hereford Boy and Titan Triumph remain fairly treated and cannot be left out of calculations either.
STAG HILL didn't enjoy a clear run when upped in trip here last time and gets the verdict now dropping back to 1m, in the hope he is granted a clearer passage. Hill Of Dreams looks on a workable mark now and must be considered after a good third at Kempton over 7f on Wednesday. Jericho was putting in his best work in the closing stages in a 7f Wolverhampton maiden last month and, expected to relish this stiffer test, is another consider.
Red Somerset, Daniel Thomas and Hierarch are the ones who arrive on the back of good runs and are preferred in that order.Timeform 1-2-3
Fibs And Flannel ran a promising race for his new stable at Kempton last time and is on a mark from which he can be very competitive. This could be a good opening for him, with the frustrating Princess Lexi looking best of the rest.Timeform 1-2-3
Za'lan got turned over at odds on last time, but he still looked to be learning that day and is worth another chance in a race as weak as this.Timeform 1-2-3
Jimmy Ryan has struck a rich vein of form of late and is fancied to land a hat-trick of C&D wins. Cliffords Reprieve and Irish-raider Ability N Delivery are others to consider.Timeform 1-2-3
3 of the 4 runners are last-time-out winners, with Kickingthelilly and Homeward Strut both bidding for a hat-trick. Preference is for the latter, who travelled strongly for his last win and may be at an advantage if things become tactical.Timeform 1-2-3
A number with claims in what appears an open race, but a chance is taken on Majuro who shaped well at Kempton last time and has dropped to a favourable mark. Caldercruix and Aqua Ardens head the list of potential dangers.Timeform 1-2-3
Wolverhampton maiden winner Jericho remains open to improvement, but Stag Hill has been in good form this winter and is taken to finally get his head in front.Timeform 1-2-3
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+ Ten Great Partnerships
+ The legacy of A P McCoy
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