A small but select field for a smart looking 0-95 mile handicap for four year olds and upwards. The recent rain is going to make this more of a test than would have been expected earlier in the week.
IN SUMMARY: G K CHESTERTON was a little disappointing last season having made such a huge impression when winning at Redcar as a juvenile. His 2017 return was a much improved effort and that form gives him the beating of Storm Ahead who looks his main danger, now dropped in grade. Takatul is taken to fill out the frame as long as the ground is not too soft for him, his recent win looked sound and a two pound rise is more than fair.
1 REPLENISH – Well supported in the market ahead of going under by three quarters of a length to Takatul (who re-opposes) at Lingfield. That was his first run since being gelded and like so many races on the all weather at Lingfield, it turned into something of a sprint off the home turn. He is worse off at the weights now – if the claim of George Wood who rode him on that occasion is taken into account – and there are no regular front runners in this contest (G K Chesterton and Moonlightnavigator have led on occasions in the past) with a false pace no help to him.
2 STORM AHEAD – Just the eight career races for this son of Iffraaj, he has come on for his seasonal debut in both seasons of racing. He was an impressive winner second time up last year on soft ground at Salisbury, so conditions will be no problem for him. He was only beaten two and a half lengths when making his 2017 return in the Spring Cup at Newbury, a race from which Fastnet Tempest and Master Carpenter have already scored since. Straighter now for that run, he looks a player dropped in grade.
3 CALVADOS SPIRIT – Appeared to benefit from a gelding operation over the winter when a comfortable winner on his return at Wolverhampton. His pedigree suggests that cut won’t be a problem, though his runs on good to soft so far are not among his best. This is a step up in class, from a career high mark, so he is going to need another jolt of improvement to get his head in front.
4 G K CHESTERTON – Made a striking impression when a fluent winner of a Redcar maiden as a juvenile but he failed to back that up with a pair of poor efforts as a three year old off this mark of 89. He is another to show improvement for being gelded when just run down close home at Nottingham in April. The winner of that race, George William, was fourth in the Spring Cup before a runner up effort in the Victoria Cup. On a strict form line through George William, that gives him the beating of Storm Ahead if coming on for the run and that makes him very much the one to beat.
5 RED TEA – Progressive for Peter Hiatt in a ten race campaign in 2016, she showed further improvement, winning at Nottingham last time, pushing her to a career high mark of 89. She was a close second on soft ground as a juvenile, seemingly acting on any surface. That was a class four event though so she is going to need to push on again to get competitive here.
6 TAKATUL – Already a four time winner in just a seven race career, he showed a good turn of foot to get on top close home at Lingfield on his latest start. He has only been given an extra two pounds for that win which was a career best and, as a half brother to the smart Intilaaq and Farmah, there is likely more to come, This will be the softest ground he has run on though and the form of the Charlie Hills yard has to be another concern for his chances.
7 TRUTH OR DARE– A smart juvenile, he ran St Leger winner, Kingston Hill, to three lengths in the Autumn Stakes. In general since then, he has become something of a disappointment, seeing his handicap mark fall from 107 to 88. His first run for new trainer James Bethell, last time was promising, finishing fourth in a better contest than this at Doncaster. He was a little tapped for toe close home that day so the step back up in trip is a plus. Very soft ground would be a concern but would be an each way player if able to find some consistency.
8 MOONLIGHTNAVIGATOR – Twice a winner on genuinely soft ground, he would have no problems if there was more rain falling before post time. He is probably as high up the weights as he wants to be, having to drop into the 70’s to rediscover form last season. He would be of interest in running if able to gain a soft time of things on the front end with trainer John Quinn sending a rare raider to the Rowley Mile, 3/14 in the last five years for a £7 level stake profit.