IN SUMMARY: Four of these filled the first four places in a C&D event a fortnight ago and, of those, the two Mick Appleby-trained runners, Moon River and Philba, look the most progressive. Their stablemate, Pearl Nation, will appreciate the return to this track after an unsuccessful stint in Dubai and is also afforded plenty of respect, but the suggestion is HIGHLAND COLORI (6/1). Andrew Balding’s 8yo has been an excellent servant to connections over the years and, although not quite as good as he once was, his C&D second in December was a good performance and he’s not fully exposed on Fibresand.
1 Sound Advice – Won three times on turf last year (7.5f-1m) and made quite encouraging return from break in valuable 8.6f event at Wolverhampton this month; proven on Fibresand and should be fine over today’s trip, but remains on career-high mark.
2 Pearl Nation – Unable to land a significant blow on either start at Meydan this year but should be more at home here; won this race off 4lb lower mark in good style in 2015 and also ran well over C&D in December; expected to be on the premises.
3 HIghland Colori – Former Ayr Gold Cup winner; won his maiden on Fibresand in 2011 and only subsequent run on this surface was a good second off today’s mark over C&D in December; usually races prominently; good chance.
4 Lexington Times – Landed a Listed prize over 7f at Lingfield just over a year ago and ran fairly well in a handicap over that C&D after a break this month; on workable mark if building on that performance but is untested on Fibresand.
5 Philba – Didn’t take to hurdling in the autumn but has won four times (three times over 7f) from seven starts on Fibresand since then; recent fourth to Moon River suggests the handicapper might have his measure now, but further progress not out of the question.
6 Showboating – Been very consistent on Fibresand this winter and was reaching the frame for the fourth consecutive time when third to Moon River over today’s trip a fortnight ago; ought to give another good account but recent 1lb nudge up the weights probably enough to leave him vulnerable.
7 Trojan Rocket – Seen only rarely on Fibresand but, having scored over 6f on Polytrack last month, he posted a good effort when second to Moon River over C&D a fortnight ago; 1lb higher this time but is evidently in good nick at present.
8 Claim The Roses – Seemed to cope reasonably well on sole previous Fibresand start (in 2014) and caused a 33-1 surprise on turf at Haydock (6f, good) last spring, but is on fairly tough mark after five-month break and takes on some race-fit course specialists today.
9 Moon River – Three course wins already this season and had three of today’s rivals behind her when gamely making most of the running over this trip a fortnight ago; continues to climb up the weights but might still be progressing; respected.
10 Bertiewhittle – Gained first victory since 2011 in 20-runner event at York (7f, soft) in October but is the type that usually finds the winning line coming too soon, and remains a maiden on the AW; needs to better his recent efforts to have any chance here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Moon River, 5/1 Highland Colori, 6/1 Pearl Nation, Philba, Trojan Rocket, 8/1 Showboating, 12/1 Lexington Times, Claim The Roses, 14/1 Sound Advice, 16/1 Bertiewhittle