IN SUMMARY: CLEVER COOKIE (4/5) has been a real money spinner, both over hurdles and on the Flat, for the Peter Niven stable and, having ended last season with a fine second over 2m at Ascot, is expected to have too much class for today’s opposition. Eye Of The Storm is also a smart performer, who goes on any ground, usually runs well fresh and has solid each-way claims. Nearly Caught ran with credit in two major staying handicaps last season and can probably make an impact in Pattern company at some stage this year. However, conditions may not be ideal for him here.
1 Clever Cookie – Smart dual-purpose performer who made winning seasonal debut in soft-ground Listed event at Chester (1m5f) in 2015 and ended that campaign with excellent second at Ascot (2m, good to soft) on Champions’ Day in October; the one to beat here.
2 Eye Of The Storm – Group 3 winner for Aidan O’Brien in 2014 and landed a Listed prize for current stable last year; has a decent record when fresh and seems very versatile ground-wise, so there’s a good chance he’ll give a good account.
3 First Mohican – Consistent on AW since winning 1m6f Wolverhampton handicap in December and was very creditable fourth over 2m on AW Championships Day at Lingfield last month; also effective on slow turf but has a bit to find with the principals here.
4 Nearly Caught – Thorough stayer who ran well in defeat in both the Northumberland Plate and the Cesarewitch last season, and signed off with a wide-margin success at Pontefract (2m2f, good to soft); has some form on soft going but today’s trip and ground combination may not be ideal.
5 Seismos – Won German Group 1 over 1m4f in 2013 but was seen only once last season, running poorly in the Sagaro at Ascot just under a year ago; ought to be fine on today’s ground but is getting long in the tooth now and others have much less to prove.
6 Giant Redwood – Readily won run-of-the-mill Navan maiden (2m, good to yielding) on debut for Aidan O’Brien in October then was sold for 20,000gns a few weeks later; open to any amount of improvement for new stable this season but been set a daunting task here.
7 Amber Flush – Usually knocks about in low-grade handicap hurdles; made quite encouraging Flat debut when second at Pontefract (2m2f, good to soft) in October but was no match for Nearly Caught that day and has others to worry about here.
8 Frosty Berry – Ended 2015 with four consecutive handicap wins, one on soft turf and three on Fibresand; however, the latest came off a mark of just 79 and she appeared to have her limitations exposed when upped in class at Lingfield in February.
9 Duchess Of Marmite – Arguably unlucky not to win AW handicap at Kempton (2m) off mark of 83 last month and is not yet fully exposed, but she needs to prove she’s effective on slow turf and progress quickly to land a significant blow here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/6 Clever Cookie, 6/1 Eye Of The Storm, Nearly Caught, 8/1 Seismos, 10/1 First Mohican, 14/1 Giant Redwood, 25/1 Duchess Of Marmite, 50/1 Frosty Berry, 100/1 Amber Flush