Summary: Crosse Fire has thrived over C&D this winter and is an obvious one for the shortlist but slight preference is for APACHE STORM, who comes here after two good efforts on Polytrack and may prove more effective back on this surface. Flowers On Venus made an excellent start to his career at Wolverhampton in December and also needs to be taken very seriously.
BALLISTA – Front-runner who earns goods marks for consistency but hasn’t tasted victory since December 2013; ought to cope with today’s drop back in trip but is untested on Fibresand and others have more appealing profiles.
HOOFALONG – Generally in good form over 5f and 6f this AW season, and had an excuse when finishing last on latest outing (blindfold removed late); remains on career-high mark, though, and was soundly beaten on sole previous Fibresand start.
CROSSE FIRE – Has gained three C&D wins since December, most recently when keeping on strongly to land quite valuable prize 19 days ago; another 4lb higher now but evidently at the top of his game, and further progress possible.
APACHE STORM – Both her wins were achieved over 6f but one of them was on Fibresand and she returns here after two decent 5f Polytrack runs in recent weeks; current handicap mark looks workable and no surprise if she poses a potent threat.
SCARBOROUGH – Back on same mark as when making all over C&D for Michael Appleby 13 months ago, but he left that stable after a couple of moderate runs in December and made disappointing debut for new trainer when down the field here on New Year’s Day. (Non Runner)
FLOWERS ON VENUS – Has an excellent pedigree and overcame a slow start when clearcut winner of 6f Wolverhampton maiden on debut just before Christmas; encounters stronger opposition and different trip/surface now switched to a handicap, but already looks useful.
DESERT COMMAND – Posted sound effort when runner-up over C&D last month and is now 2lb lower; claims on that evidence but didn’t find much for pressure when fourth at Lingfield last time and has become quite a tricky horse to win with.
SLEEPY BLUE OCEAN – Excellent servant over the years and has gained six of his 13 wins over C&D; gave very good account when close second here last month but subsequent 2lb rise probably enough to leave him vulnerable in this stronger race.
JAARIH – Two C&D wins already this year, the first in a claimer and the second in a Class 5 handicap; not in same form on Tapeta nine days ago and has rise in grade to overcome today, but is still quite lightly race and return to this surface an obvious plus.
FINE ‘N DANDY – Ended 2015 turf season with a win and returned from break in decent form on AW this winter, including when ready winner of low-grade C&D event this month; comfortably held under 6lb penalty on Tapeta on Friday, though, and full 11lb rise has now taken effect.
myracing Forecast Prices: 100/30 Crosse Fire, 7/2 Flowers On Venus, 7/1 Desert Command, Jaarih, 8/1 Apache Storm, 10/1 Sleepy Blue Ocean, Fine ‘n Dandy, 12/1 Ballista, Hoofalong, 20/1 Scarborough