At first glance it is pretty hard to oppose Spring Loaded here after Paul D’Arcy’s four-year-old grey won over course and distance on the television last weekend with what looked to the naked eye like an awful lot more in hand than the six pounds the handicappers has hit him with since. That was the gelding’s fourth win in a row and his sixth in eight races that have seen him go up from 79 before the first of those victories to the 101 he has to shoulder here. Although unlikely to be suitably priced, he looks nailed on to place with an all-weather record of seven wins two seconds and a third from just eleven starts, and although the handicapper will eventually catch up with him, he does look as if there is a race or two left in the locker yet.
Using the bare form mathematically is a dangerous option but at the weights today, you would have to suggest that Yeeoow has an excellent chance if the probable jolly fluffs his lines. Last time out he was exactly two lengths behind Spring Loaded with no obvious excuses, but is six pounds better off today which in theory is more than enough to reverse the form. On the down side he was fully fit and unlikely to improve, a remark that also applies to his age of seven, and although very likely to place, surely a win at this grade is now beyond him.
Anyone looking for a consistent sort as an each way alternative need look no further than the David Evans trained Dougan who was fourth on his Windsor debut last October but hasn’t finished out of the first two home in five races since, three of them successful. Although the majority of his wins have been over a seventh furlong he was caught close home over that trip last time out at Wolverhampton, but in front at the furlong pole, though whether that was down to a lack of match fitness is the bigger question. He has been put up four more pounds for that run which won’t help his chances at all, but he is a trier and just the sort you might want to have on your side this summer.
Newmarket handler David Elsworth has his string well forward already this spring and it may be folly to simply write off Justice Well, even if he only has a win record of one from nine races. Amusingly, that was over this six-furlong trip and he has been pushed up to seven furlongs in seven of his next eight races without success – so no wonder they try it again here. He was a good second to Chookie Royale here in November when only beaten a head and a repeat of that would see him look hard for a place, but it does seem as if he needs the handicapper to relent a little before we see him win another race.
To end with young Noel Garbutt is pretty good value for his five-pound claim and that could yet bring Plucky Dip on to the scene off a sensible weight for trainer John Ryan. He was beaten a length and a quarter by Spring Loaded last time here but is six pounds better off this afternoon which makes it all the more interesting between all of those mentioned and on paper, remarkably close.