David O'Meara's SO BELOVED has a cracking record over this course and distance and having only been beaten a short head in this 12 months ago, could go one better off a 3lb lower mark with cheekpieces tried. Stablemate Salateen is another who enjoys the Knavesmire, while Zap can't be discounted off a mark just 1lb higher than when scoring at Leopardstown last September. Group 3 winner Dancing Star could also be dangerous at this level.
Archive comes into this in excellent form having won his last three outings and the booking of Adam Kirby must be noted. Preference, however, goes to MAKAWEE, as she appears to have the scope for further improvement and her second on return at Hamilton suggested that the extra furlong here would play to her strengths. Ideal Candy, Ad Libitum and Breathable complete the shortlist.
Maid Up has a superb record on fast ground (3111) in four starts and has to be taken seriously back up in distance. She was defeated by Pilaster over this trip last season, but that rival was disappointing at Nottingham last time and might prefer softer conditions. Enbihaar impressed when scoring on her reappearance at Goodwood, but ALEXANA is 2-3 in her career so far and her breeding suggests that she will enjoy a first try at 14 furlongs for William Haggas.
A competitive dash in which there could be a strong pace on the cards from El Astronaute, A Momentofmadness, Acclaim The Nation and Abel Handy. LEODIS DREAM extended his winning run at Chester recently and could continue his recent progression if he stalks the likely frenetic gallop. Any money for Australian raider Acqume would be interesting, while Copper Knight, who beat Marnie James, Eeh Bah Gum and Dark Shot here last time, is another to consider.
War Storm and Dutch Decoy bring some solid form to the table and merit consideration, although the latter's stable may have a better chance with International Lion, a 58,000gns purchase who is a half-brother to 1m Listed scorer Lincoln Rocks. Jump The Gun and Findhorn are both bred to have plenty of pace and represent in-form yards, but a chance is taken on MAKYON, who is a half-brother to Lowther and Falmouth Stakes winner Nahoodh and his trainer won this race last year.
ELISHEBA was far from disgraced when finishing fourth in a Listed race at Lingfield two weeks ago and that performance suggests that she could be underestimated by a mark of 83. Vivid Diamond is another who brings Listed form to the table and she could pose the biggest threat to the selection this afternoon, ahead of Quintada and Arctic Fox.
Magic City took this last season for Mick Easterby and is foolish to dismiss despite holding an engagement at Pontefract on Friday, while stablemate Barton Mills is interesting on his first outing for the Yorkshire handler following wind surgery. Right Action arrives in good form and is the pick of Richard Fahey's pair, with handicap debutant Muraahin another to consider. However, preference is for recent Chepstow winner SIR RODERIC, who could follow up off a 4lb higher mark and won't be inconvenienced dropping back in trip.
DANCING STAR hasn't run in a handicap since landing the Stewards' Cup in 2016, but proved herself over this trip in listed company last autumn and could be the answer to a tricky-looking contest. David O'Meara's duo So Beloved and Salateen rate the principal dangers.
AD LIBITUM is comfortably below his last winning mark, should come on for a considerate reappearance and is the type to benefit from a strong gallop at a track like this, so he's preferred to the upwardly-mobile Makawee and the bang-in-form Archive.
ENBIHAAR is only 4 runs into her career and appeals as the sort to keep improving for a while yet, so she's preferred to both Pilaster and Maid Up, who have actually achieved more in form terms but have underwhelming reappearances to put behind them. Alexana and Bayshore Freeway are others to consider in an interesting fillies' Group 3.
EL ASTRONAUTE acquitted himself well in Group 2 company here last time and will be well served by the return to the minimum trip. He gets the nod in an open-looking handicap. Sole 3-y-o representative Leodis Dream arrives at the top of his game and is feared most, whilst Copper Knight and Eeh Bah Gum are also much respected.
FINDHORN makes plenty of appeal on debut from a yard that has had first-time-out winners here and at Doncaster in the last week and has also won this race 3 times since 2011 (twice with newcomers). Makyon and International Lion are also both interesting first time up, while the latter's stablemate Dutch Decoy could improve markedly from his first start at Newcastle.
A competitive handicap despite the small field and ELISHEBA just gets the narrow vote over Newmarket-winner Arctic Fox, the pair of them likely to improve further. Mark Johnston's pair can't be ruled out, though Osmosis has a bit to find up in class.
CITRON MAJOR finished his race off well in a hot sprint handicap here last week and has a big shout after a 2 lb drop with an in-form amateur booked. Sir Roderick remains well handicapped on his peak form after his Chepstow win and can go well again. Right Action and Saluti are also considered.