IN SUMMARY: Both Natural Scenery and London Prize both have scope for further progress and have to be respected but the most interesting runner is the five year old HOT BEAT. A winner in Germany, he’s made a good start with the David Simcock yard including a victory on his latest start at Wolverhampton and he remains with huge scope for progress over this longer trip. He seems almost certain to stay the trip and with Martin Harley taking the ride, he looks like the one to beat with everything considered.
1 HOT BEAT – Useful performer in Germany and scored on the second attempt for the David Simcock yard at Wolverhampton in January (1m 4f, Std), running on much the strongest. Goes up in trip today and there is likely much more to come at this distance, with a 5lb rise unlikely to make a lot of difference since he’s unexposed at staying distances. Martin Harley takes the ride and he looks to be the most intriguing runner in the line up, and looks the one to beat with all factors considered.
2 HAVANA BEAT – On a long losing streak that spans back to July 2014 in a small field race at Sandown (2m, Good to Firm). Now 11lb below that mark but is so inconsistent that it’s impossible recommend him, finishing a well beaten last on his latest start at Lingfield in December (1m 4f, Std). Going up in trip is likely to help but its hard to get excited about his claims and others have more convincing claims.
3 NATURAL SCENERY – Progressive on the all weather for Saeed Bin Suroor and won cosily on her latest start here in January, never looking in much danger up the home straight (1m 4f, Std). Godolphin’s four year old by Dubawi should improve further for the step up in trip and has the assistance of Josephine Gordon for today’s run which is a big plus. Likely much more to come and has to be respected as she’s a half sister to a winning hurdler, so there is hope she will see this distance out well.
4 MASTERPAVER – Six year old whose raced 54 times under rules, so its hard to see him reversing the form of his latest second to Natural Scenery back in January (1m 4f, Std). Obviously he doesn’t have the potential of that rival, and also has to prove his stamina at this distance as he’s looked to be a non stayer on his previous attempts. Possible place claims if he stays for the in form Richard Fahey yard but others are far more interesting.
5 HIGHLAND CASTLE – Still 3lb above his last winning mark and was well beaten when last seen on the all weather, finishing sixth of eight at Kempton in April 2016 (2m, Std). Poor over hurdles on both occasions this season which doesn’t help his claims and others make far more appeal, with there being some doubt as to whether he stays the two mile trip strongly too.
6 ZAKATAL – Has been runner up on four of his last five starts including his latest three, only beaten a length on his latest start at Wolverhampton in January (2m, Std). Only raised a pound and clear stays this trip, so has to have a decent chance for Rebecca Menzies and PJ McDonald, though he does take a step up in class which is a concern. Likely to run a good race however and has to be respected for each way claims, though he’s more than likely to find one of these too good.
7 TIME OF MY LIFE – Has been well beaten on three starts this season over hurdles and is still 5lb above his last winning mark on the flat, with that last win coming at Hamilton in the summer (1m 5f, Good). On that evidence he still seems high in the weights on all weather debut and others make far more appeal, especially with an overall record of three from twenty four on the flat. Likely best left alone.
8 LONDON PRIZE – Progressive under both codes, winning twice on the flat back in October before four good efforts over hurdles, still travelling well in a listed race at Musselburgh when falling at the fourth last.