IN SUMMARY: Appealing options are quite thin on the ground in what looks an uncompetitive race for the grade. UNDER SEIGE (NR), was the original choice but now that he is a non runner JOE PACKET (11/1) gets the vote coming here after running very well at Goodwood. If that performances is taken in isolation, he has a good chance here as does Long Awaited after a similarly promising display at the same track.. Both find winning difficult and can be very frustrating but the former has won over C&D with cut underfoot so gets the pick. Links Drive Lady can be sluggish in the early stages and has been below her best on her last couple of outings but she’s now 2lb lower than when third over C&D in April and also gets a place on the shortlist.
1 Burning Thread – Not seen on turf since scoring at Bath (5.7f, good to firm) in October; fairly consistent over 5f on the AW since then but 6f appears to stretch his stamina, he holds no secrets from the handicapper and any rain here will harm his chance.
2 Links Drive Lady – Gave very good account when third over C&D (soft) on seasonal debut in April and is now 2lb lower; good chance on that evidence but both subsequent runs have been disappointing and her tendency to lose ground at the start also reduces her appeal.
3 Sydney Ruffdiamond – Made satisfactory seasonal/stable debut when midfield over 5f at Goodwood in April but failed to build on that performance when well beaten over C&D last month; subsequent 3lb drop helpful but he needs first-time cheekpieces to give him a lift.
4 Fingal’s Cave – Two wins this year, the more recent at Brighton (7f, good to soft) in April; ran well in defeat over that trip at Chester last month but wasn’t in same form when dropped back to 6f for latest outing and remains on career-high mark.
5 Long Awaited – Claimed for £8,000 after finished second in small-field 5f event here last month; finished strongly when fourth in Goodwood handicap over that trip on recent stable debut and looks interesting on first attempt at 6f since 2011, but has modest 3-41 strike-rate and can be frustrating.
6 Boy In The Bar – Well-beaten 40-1 shot when returning from break in March and not seen again since; has slipped to a dangerous mark but latest win was nearly two years ago and he needs first-time cheekpieces to trigger a revival.
7 Upstaging – Placed off marks similar to today’s on first three starts this season but was slightly disappointing when midfield over C&D on latest outing and is yet to add to his 2yo maiden win; now swaps blinkers for first-time cheekpieces.
8 Invincible Diamond – Still quite lightly raced and outran 40-1 odds when placed at Wolverhampton (7f, AW) after 11-month absence in March; soundly beaten on both subsequent AW starts, though, and has it all to prove again now back on turf.
9 Under Siege – Has a point to prove after a disappointing AW run at Chelmsford last month but went close after break there in March and won’t mind if there’s some ease underfoot now back on turf; might be the answer. NR
10 Fever Few – Came from off the pace to score at Lingfield (7f, good) last summer and should also be suited by today’s trip but had to settle for fifth off lower AW mark when last seen in March and doesn’t look well treated back on turf after 88-day break.
11 Joe Packet – Went nearly four years without winning before hitting the target at Salisbury (6f, good to firm) last summer and was below that form on only subsequent start last season but gave very good account when second at Goodwood (6f, good to soft) last month and can make his presence felt here.
12 Doctor Parkes – Not the force of old but been a good servant over the years and his sixth in a huge field at Ascot (6f, good to firm) last month was a decent effort; 4lb lower now but was disappointing when only sixth in C&D claimer a few days later and needs to up his game.
13 Captain Marmalade – Managed to win a very ordinary maiden handicap at Chepstow (6f, good to firm) a year ago for Roger Charlton but posed no threat when 66-1 for seasonal/stable debut at Kempton (7f, AW) last month and big leap of faith required to support him after that.
myracing Forecast Prices: 6/1 Links Drive Lady, Joe Packet, 7/1 Sydney Ruffdiamond, Fingal’s Cave, Upstaging, Under Siege, 8/1 Long Awaited, 10/1 Burning Thread, 14/1 Boy In The Bar, Fever Few, Doctor Parkes, 20/1 Invincible Diamond, 33/1 Captain Marmalade