IN SUMMARY: This can go to GURKA FRIEND (6/1), who found things tough after winning his maiden at the start of last season but has come down the weights, posted a sound effort when third on fast ground at Ayr last month and ought to be better suited by the underfoot ease here. Taysh became disappointing after showing significant early promise for John Gosden but emerged from a spell in the doldrums when a strong-finishing second over C&D a fortnight ago. That piece of form is not entirely convincing and his head carriage looked rather awkward, but he has the potential to take another step forward and is feared. Favourite Treat holds no secrets from the handicapper but comes here after producing a good performance to win at Doncaster last month and is next on the list.
1 Spryt – Only win from 13 starts for David O’Meara was gained in a small-field maiden and he weakened out of contention after making the running on last month’s seasonal debut at Wolverhampton (7f, AW); placed off similar marks to today’s on a few occasions last year but others more persuasive.
2 Taysh – Well beaten on first three stable starts but finished well to claim second over C&D (good to soft) a fortnight ago; tended to hang under pressure that day and never threatened the winner but it will be interesting to see whether he can build on that performance.
3 Gurka Friend – Was seemingly too high in the weights after winning his maiden in April 2015 but has been given some help by the handicapper and comes here after good effort to finish third at Ayr (7f, good to firm) last month; might be better suited by the slower ground here and is one to consider.
4 Musaaid – Won 7f Newmarket maiden for Roger Varian last summer but was sold for just 3,000gns in the autumn; finished down the field on last month’s seasonal/stable debut and also looked held before unseating rider over C&D a fortnight ago; has lots to prove at present.
5 Jay Kay – Front-runner who won four consecutive times in 2015 and was only denied by a head when bidding to complete a perfect season at Ayr (7f, good) in September; might have more to offer this year but was a disappointing favourite over C&D last month and has a point to prove after that.
6 Ski Blast – Won his maiden when upped to 7f at Newcastle last summer, his fourth start; not beaten far when midfield on subsequent handicap debut at Redcar but is only 1lb lower here and needs to find something extra to strike on first outing for 238 days.
7 Nonno Giulio – Won a 1m AW claimer for Simon Dow last summer but has been absent since a moderate run in that grade in September; has never won a handicap and could be considered only if attracting market support before debut for David Loughnane.
8 Favourite Treat – Well beaten when making seasonal debut on heavy ground in March but bounced back to form to cause 20/1 surprise at Doncaster (7f, good to soft) last month; subsequent 4lb rise leaves him with little margin for error but no surprise if he gives another good account here.
9 Dreese – Probably wasn’t suited by soft ground when last of 11 over 6f on last month’s seasonal debut and competes off new career-low mark today but last season’s course win for Richard Fahey came in a seller and he still has stamina to prove over 7f.
10 Dr Red Eye – Without a win since summer 2014 and no longer the force of old; shaped as though his turn might be near when second over C&D (soft) on last month’s seasonal debut but couldn’t match that performance at Brighton a week ago.
11 Logans Lad – Much better known for his exploits on the AW; won at Wolverhampton (7f) in February and competes off lower turf mark here (albeit 1lb out of the handicap), but his only win on this surface came in a fast-ground seller over 6f in 2014
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Taysh, 5/1 Gurkha Friend, Favourite Treat, 8/1 Spryt, Jay Kay, Ski Blast, Dr Red Eye, 14/1 Logans Lad, 16/1 Musaaid, 20/1 Nonno Giulio, Dreese