IN SUMMARY: C&D winner Navigate has a decent chance if able to build on his encouraging return to action on soft ground at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago and is respected. However, this might go to ENGLISHMAN (15/2 Each Way), who finished just behind Navigate at Doncaster but raced prominently that day and can arguably be rated slightly higher than the bare form. The concern is that he failed to build on a promising reappearance run during a light campaign in 2015, but he’s very effective on slow ground and now too well handicapped to resist. Flowers On Venus is untested on turf but has made a pleasing start to his career on the AW. Links Drive Lady gave a very good account when fifth in a heavy-ground Listed event in November but usually needs a run or two to put her straight.
1 Navigate – Ended last season with a couple of disappointing efforts but made encouraging reappearance when sixth of 16 at Doncaster (6f, soft) a fortnight ago; untested on heavy ground but has a C&D win to his name and can pose a threat if he handles the conditions.
2 Ice Lord – Won Salisbury maiden (6f, good) by 8l last summer but was a beaten favourite in his first two handicaps (6f/7f); remains lightly raced and could easily have more to offer this year, but returns from 223-day break today and is unraced on ground slower than good to soft.
3 Kinglami – Goes on any ground and was a triple C&D winner when in the care of Brian Gubby; always towards rear when making seasonal/stable debut at Doncaster this month, though, and current mark is quite tough even if he’s back on song.
4 Links Drive Lady – Only 1lb higher than when gaining clearcut win at Goodwood (6f, good) last June and ended last season with very creditable fifth in heavy-ground Listed event at Doncaster; player if fully revved up but has modest record when fresh.
5 Flowers On Venus – Justified favouritism when scoring by over 3l at Wolverhampton (6f, AW) on debut in December then went very close when dropped to 5f for handicap debut at Southwell in Febraury; interesting to see how well he copes with heavy turf.
6 Captain Bob – Better known for his exploits over 7f and hasn’t won since June 2014; spoiled chance by refusing to settle on recent seasonal reappearance; on that evidence, today’s drop in trip could be a good move, but others have more convincing profiles.
7 Englishman – Gave decent account when fourth at Newbury (6f, good) on stable debut just under a year ago; below that form on only two subsequent outings last year but made satisfactory reappearance this month, has slipped to an attractive mark and is suited by slow ground.
8 Heartsong – Back from break with 6f Polytrack win in February but hasn’t been in same form on last two starts on that surface; better suited by turf but higher mark reflects that and she’ll need to produce a new career-best performance to have any chance in this company.
9 Crew Cut – Ended last season in poor form over 7f and was well-beaten 50-1 shot when back in action over that trip this month; on workable handicap mark now and will be fine over 6f, but will probably be of much greater interest when the ground dries out.
10 Captain Lars – Claimed after 7l win over 1m on Fibresand in January and has found things tougher back in handicaps for new stable; stayed on well for third in big-field event at Doncaster (7f, soft) this month but today’s drop back in trip not an obvious move; others preferred.
11 Chelwood Gate – Quite consistent (mainly over further) on Polytrack since the autumn but seems to have become very tricky to win with; hasn’t raced on turf since October 2014 and, with today’s ground a concern, it’s probably best to look elsewhere for the winner.
myracing Forecast Prices: 7/2 Navigate, 4/1 Flowers On Venus, 6/1 Ice Lord, Englishman, 8/1 Links Drive Lady, Captain Lars, 10/1 Captain Bob, 14/1 Kinglami, 16/1 Chelwood Gate, 20/1 Heartsong, Crew Cut