Emerald Loch must have big claims returning to a much softer surface and Dandyleekie is now only one pound higher than when successful on heavy ground at Haydock in July. However, a chance is taken on ANCIENT ASTRONAUT (14/1) who was successful on soft ground on debut. The Kodiac gelding found the five furlongs too sharp at Pontefract last time out, staying on late in the day to finish 5th of the 14 runners behind Cosmic Chatter. He’s only a pound higher than when successful at Epsom in August and holds big claims stepped back up to the extended 5f 212y.
1 DANDYLEEKIE – All three wins came on ground with cut; Good to Soft, Soft and Heavy, so with mud like conditions guaranteed, he will feel right at home. Successful off a mark of 79 at Haydock in July in similar conditions and runs off 80 here so looks sure to be involved in the finish.
2 MONEY TEAM – Won at Thirsk on Heavy ground last month off a two pound lower mark (77). Hacked up here at Catterick in a claimer in 2013 so winning course form is also an advantage. Needs to bounce back from three tame efforts in a row but place claims if he does.
3 EMERALD LOCH – Progressive three year old filly who relishes underfoot conditions. Form on heavy or soft reads 2-1-2 from her three runs so she looks a major player on this ground. Winner of a Carlisle fillies’ handicap in July and although she is three pounds higher here, she must have more improvement in her.
4 ROYAL CONNOISSEUR – Won well under this seven pound claimer at Hamilton over 6f on Heavy ground last time, beating Gilmer who went on to win very well next time out. Conditions suit but it remains to be seen whether he can deal with a mark of 77 for now. Each way player.
5 ART OBSESSION – Both wins have come on Good ground but he ran well on Heavy ground at Thirsk behind Giant Spark when 2nd in September. Solid run at Newcastle when last seen when 3rd to Slingsby and looks fairly treated off a mark of 75. Another with a chance in a very competitive race.
6 GIN IN THE INN – Tailed off last of eight runners on only try on soft ground so that has to be a massive concern. Won at Pontefract in August when given an extremely patient ride, flying home to get up. Poor run at Windsor latest when 10th of 12 runners and would be hard to back with confidence.
7 THE HOODED CLAW – Last four runs have been abysmal and the three month break will need to freshen the horse up massively. He is in good hands with the Easterby stable and is now well treated so if any man can get this horse back to life, he is in the right place. Course and distance winner on heavy ground in the past which is a big plus.
8 ANCIENT ASTRONAUT – Three year old gelding who was successful on debut on soft ground last year. Won at Epsom in the hands of Silvestre De Sousa in August and latest run was better than the bare form, a staying on 5th over the inadequate sharp five furlongs. Back up in trip here and is a huge player off a good mark.
9 FANTASY JUSTIFIER – Last success was on soft ground at Chepstow back in May off a mark of 69 and he runs off 69 here so he is back down to a very favourable mark. Needs to improve on last three efforts but any market support could be very significant.
10 SEE THE STORM – All wins have come on ground with good or firm in the description so conditions may not suit this horse. Tailed off on latest three starts back is now off a very workable mark. Only with the yard a short space of time so that is a plus but there are better options.