At first glance it looks as if in form trainer Tim Easterby holds all the aces, and he has never made any secret that he likes Snoano (8/1 Each Way), even if the four-year-old son of the great Nayef arrives here after seven consecutive losses which at first glance could be confusing. The mile and a half trip is a bit questionable on breeding but he was second on softer ground at Thirsk over this trip last time out which is promising, and given a bit quicker ground this afternoon to assist his stamina, we think he can run a huge race. If conditions do suit, then hopefully he can recapture his two-year-old form that includes a fifth to Elm Park in the Racing Post Trophy when in the care of John Gosden, which would be more than enough to take care of all of these at the weights and makes him cracking each way value.
Meanwhile, local trainer Charlie Appleby holds a good chance with Oceanographer (5/2) who we hoped they relied on – and thankfully they do! A son of the legendary Sea The Stars, he has improved hand over fist in his last few races with an impressive eight length win at Chelmsford seeing his weight put up a stone, but even that wasn’t enough to stop him. Stepping up in trip to eleven furlongs at Kempton he demolished his field again, this time by “only” four and a half lengths after making most of the running, a victory that has seen him put up another eleven pounds and that may yet be enough to stop his progress. Now a four-year-old, he does look just the sort to go on improving with age, and although the handicapper will catch up with him eventually, there is a chance he is better than your average horse and he should run well enough here, though we do we feel Snoano is the better handicapped.
Sussex trainer David Menusier may not be a household name just yet but he has been doing well with his small string and will be hoping for a big run from Slunovrat (11/2) after the five-year-old hacked up at Windsor on his return after a winter break. Likely to strip fitter for that run, he may yet be able to shrug off a six-pound rise in the weights, though the tactics could prove interesting as he likes to make a lot of the running as do quite a few of these. He did end last season on a high as well so his last run was not a one off, and thanks to the original top weight pulling out he just gets in with his proper amount to carry and will feel like he has been let loose with just eight stone on his back!
Silver Quay (12/1) sees the potent combination of Richard Hannon and Ryan Moore in action once again (18% strike rate), and as he is only a four-year-old he could have a bit more to offer his supporters, and those of the Hannon yard. After winning on his return at Lingfield he was crucified by the handicapper who put him up six pounds followed by the same again after he finished second to Gang Warfare but found it all too much next time out when last back at Lingfield behind Top Tug. With no obvious excuses that day he needs to be forgiven to expect him to et involved again today, but the stable are in among the winners and he may have just had an off day.
Ed Dunlop is a trainer we like and we note he has put first time blinkers on Oasis Fantasy (10/1) and if they make a difference he could yet be well handicapped. His last victory was way back in June 2014 and he has had fifteen losing runs since so the headgear will have to work miracles, but the truth is they can bring about significant improvement, and if they do he could yet be a player today.