IN SUMMARY: Ice Lord still has low mileage and is sure to be popular after his pleasing seasonal debut at Windsor last month. However, he needs to prove he’s effective on today’s much faster ground and it could be worth chancing the fitness of CARTMELL CLEAVE (6/1), who looked progressive towards the end of last season and met trouble in-running when a beaten favourite over C&D on his latest outing. Childesplay may not have been suited by good to soft ground when slightly disappointing at Newmarket last month but was an easy winner (albeit in lesser company) over C&D a year ago and is also considered. Shore Step was consistent in Class 2 events last season, will find this race easier if ready to roll after his winter break and completes the shortlist.
1 Shore Step – Ran with credit (albeit without winning) in Class 2 company on each of his six starts last season, the most recent when third at Doncaster (6.5f, good) in September; lacks a recent run and holds no secrets from the handicapper but will appreciate today’s drop in grade.
2 Cartmell Cleave – Came from off the pace to score at Newmarket (6f, good) in August and met traffic when a beaten favourite over C&D the following month; back from 244-day absence today but not yet fully exposed and can pose a threat if fully revved up.
3 Shipyard – Three wins last year, the latest over 5f here in October; today’s longer trip won’t be a problem but he ended 2015 with a couple of mediocre AW runs; unlikely to be improving as a 7yo and returns from break on a fairly tough mark.
4 Muir Lodge – Last year’s win was gained a Newmarket (6f, good to firm) in August; signed off with very creditable second in big-field event at Haydock (6f, good to soft) in October but went up 3lb for that and looks vulnerable after 203-day layoff.
5 Major Crispies – Quirky customer who has a poor strike-rate for a horse of his ability (2-32); suited by fast turf but was in moderate form on the AW when last seen in the autumn and remains 2lb above his last winning mark; others much more appealing.
6 Ice Lord – Lightly raced 4yo who won his maiden in good style at Salisbury (6f, good) last summer and made pleasing reappearance when second at Windsor (6f, soft) last month, where he raced away from the main pack; needs to prove he’s fully effective on fast ground but commands respect.
7 Childesplay – Easily won a lower-grade C&D event (good to firm) a year ago and was good third at Wolverhampton (7f, AW) on seasonal reappearance in March; not quite in same form when fifth at Newmarket last month but the good to soft may not have been ideal; enters calculations.
8 Yeeoow – Dipped into plating company to gain latest win, at Lingfield (6f, AW) in January, but has reached the frame in all five subsequent handicaps, the last twice back on turf at Newmarket; likely to find at least a couple better treated again today, though.
9 Redvers – Has run some very big races in valuable 7f events here over the years but had quiet season on 2015 and never really threatened when fifth at Pontefract (6f, soft) on last month’s stable debut; rare runner here for his North Yorkshire-based trainer, though.
10 Flowers On Venus – Scored on debut at Wolverhampton (6f, AW) in December then went very close in first handicap, at Southwell (5f, AW); however, finished down the field (albeit on soft ground) when switched to turf last month and needs today’s faster ground to show him in a much better light.
11 Great Fun – Reached the frame in all four handicaps after winning debut at Wetherby (7f, good) in April 2015; will probably be fine over a stiff 6f today but is raised in class after an eight-month absence and will need to display some improvement to win this.
12 Plucky Dip – Gained all three of his wins on the AW in 2014 and is 0-16 on turf; gave decent account when fifth at Windsor (6f, good) on Monday but runs off the same mark in a stronger race here and makes very little appeal.
myracing Forecast Prices: 3/1 Ice Lord, 5/1 Cartmell Cleave, 7/1 Shore Step, 8/1 Shipyard, Yeeoow, 10/1 Childesplay, 12/1 Muir Lodge, 14/1 Flowers On Venus, Great Fun, 16/1 Redvers, 20/1 Plucky Dip, 25/1 Major Crispies