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By Alan Magee - Adrian Murray has declared three runners in the opening juvenile race of the turf campaign and BUCANERO FUERTE makes plenty of appeal on pedigree. The son of Wootton Bassett is a full brother to two smart types including Wooded who won the Prix de l’Abbaye on testing ground at Longchamp. The selection cost 165,000 as a yearling at Arqana. Prince X J is by Mehmas out of a winning Red Jazz mare and represents Michael O’Callaghan and Colin Keane. Charles Atlas is by Cotai Glory out of the speedy Sweetest Taboo, while Sturlasson is from the first crop of Invincible Army and is the first foal out of a winning juvenile.
By Alan Magee - JON RIGGENS won a maiden over course and distance and has shown his best form since on very testing ground. He filled the runner-up spot twice last autumn and didn’t enjoy a clear passage when beating all bar Magical Vision on his final start at Naas. The selection had Earls behind on that occasion but the Gavin Cromwell-trained gelding had previously completed a four-timer over a variety of trips culminating over six furlongs on soft ground at Naas. Downforce relishes testing ground and having held a career high rating of 111, turned the clock back when scoring again over six furlongs here last October. Verhoyen is a four-time course winner but has not won over this trip, while Saliteh and Laugh A Minute have the benefit of a recent run at Dundalk.
By Alan Magee - HONEY GIRL is one of the highest rated maidens still in training at four. She filled the runner-up spot three times in Dundalk maidens for Henry de Bromhead and was Group 3 placed in the Cornelscourt Stakes over a mile at Leopardstown. She was also far from disgraced a couple of times in Group 1 races although can be a bit tricky in the starting stalls. Aidan O’Brien is represented by two well-bred fillies. Water Nymph stepped forward from her debut when runner-up on soft ground at Gowran Park, while Unless went off favourite on all three outings last year and hasn’t raced on ground anything like as testing as this.
By Alan Magee - Totally Charming and LATTAM provide a strong UK challenge for the first big handicap of the Irish Flat season and slight preference is given to the William Haggas-trained gelding. The son of Lope De Vega won his opening two starts last year including over this trip at Thirsk before his form tailed off a bit in two subsequent outings. The Newmarket trainer has a good record with his rare Irish runners and ground conditions are expected to suit the four-year-old with a nice racing weight. Totally Charming is proven on testing going having scored in great style at Doncaster last backend, while Cosmic Vega is another well served by the recent wet spell. Dha Leath, Maud Gonne Spirit and Joe Masseria are others for the shortlist with the ground in mind.
By Gary Carson - INSINUENDO sets the standard here and looks the one to beat. Willie McCreery's charge appreciates a cut in the ground and while she stays further her stamina will be an asset in these testing conditions. She ran well over this trip in this race last season when just losing out to Mother Earth and she doesn't face anything of that class now. Agartha is next best on official ratings but has to carry a group race penalty. She landed the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary on her final start of last season. That came on good ground but she was also a Group 2 winner as a juvenile in testing conditions so is versatile. Star Girls Aalmal, fourth in last season's Irish 1,000 Guineas, is another with solid stakes form who has to be on the shortlist.
By Gary Carson - BROADHURST shaped well on his sole start last season and is interesting on his return here. The No Nay Never colt stayed on nicely to chase home Harry Time in a Navan maiden last May and that form has worked out well since. The winner went on to run well in stakes company while the third-placed horse Beauty Crescent landed the Blenheim Stakes at Fairyhouse. Shadowed sets the standard here of a mark of 84. His runner-up effort to Auguste Rodin at Naas reads very well but he was turned over at a short price in a Dundalk maiden when last seen in November. Miami Thunder has been running well at Dundalk and with fitness on his side he's another that has to be considered.
By Gary Carson - STARTING MONDAY won this a couple of years ago and may be worth a shot in a race where very few have solid form in testing conditions. The Raven's Pass gelding is just a pound higher than when scoring over course and distance before and had a couple of good placed efforts last season. Khafaaq is another that has won in similar conditions in the past and he looks to have slipped to an attractive mark. Storm Eric has been knocking on the door on the all-weather, and comes here fit, but the going would be a concern.
By Gary Carson - PRETTY BOY FLOYD has slipped a nice bit in the weights and may be worth a shot here on his return to action. The Footstepsinthesand gelding likes it here, with three course victories, and Colin Keane has been on board for those wins. Having been as high as 89 at one point a mark of 68 looks appealing now. Mogwli won this last year and and is actually now 3lb lower than when scoring 12 months ago. He commands plenty of respect. His stablemate Cnodian is another who goes on soft ground and has some good course form. Jessica Maye lessens her burden of top-weight and she is another that has to be on the shortlist.
- ED KEEPER sets a decent standard on the evidence of his two runs to date, having found some improvement from his Ffos Las debut when finishing second at Chepstow in January. The form has worked out, with the winner scoring again under a penalty and the third also getting off the mark in this sphere, so the Sam Thomas-trained five-year-old appears to have been found a nice opportunity. Si Elegant has to enter calculations, along with Present Fair.
- WALK IN THE STORM filled the runner-up spot on her handicap bow over 2m4f at Ffos Las earlier in the month and the manner of that performance suggested that Ian Williams' mare would benefit from this step up in trip. William Ewart returned from a wind operation on the same card and is capable of improving, while others to note include Invincible De Mee and Hunsbury.
- TWOTWOTHREE took a step forward on his latest outing when runner-up at Doncaster after a wind operation and the drop back in trip is unlikely to stop him from going one better. Heritier is only 2lb higher than for his last win, which came at Market Rasen in November, and he has to be considered, despite a below-par effort at Plumpton when last seen. Muse Of Fire and Cenotice appeal most of the remainder.
- Minella Trump returns to timber following a prolific campaign over fences, but he has been off since June and it could be worth taking a chance on EL MUCHACHO. The Milton Harris-trained six-year-old struggled in the Morebattle at Kelso earlier this month and is worth another chance up in trip. Carlisle winner Tanganyika is feared most, while the consistent Thereisnodoubt adds further spice to the mix.
- This can go the way of the hat-trick seeking ROCK HURLEY, who makes his handicap debut following an eyecatching success in France just after Christmas. Now switched to Donald McCain after being bought for 125,000 euros, he could be capable of defying the welter burden of 12 stone. Foster'sisland can give the selection most to think about, while Tap Tap Boom is another to bear in mind.
- METHODTOTHEMADNESS arrives here on the back of two victories at Musselburgh last month and a 2lb rise for the most recent of those wins may not be enough to stop her from making it a hat-trick. Feuille De Lune showed some promise when third at Huntingdon and she edges out Penny Mallow and Emmpressive Lady to be the pick of the remaining field.
- KINGS JUSTICE was not disgraced when fifth at Doncaster a month ago and a reproduction of that level of form here would give him a big chance off a 2lb lower mark. Scherbobalob put in a career best over hurdles at Ludlow last time and merits consideration on his handicap debut. Ballabawn often makes the frame and is likely to be in the mix again, while Feel The Pinch is another to note.
- Plenty of these arrive in top form, but preference is for CORAL BLUE, who scored over C&D last November and has won his last two starts (both in February) with the minimum of fuss. A career-high mark of 107 may not be enough to stop him and he can see off the likes of Les's Legacy and Prairie Wolf, who have both been running very well of late. Others to note include Euchan Falls, Idilico and Salvino.
- Now that the penny has dropped for JET LEGS following an authoritative success at Wetherby earlier in the month, there should be much more to come from the six-year-old, especially over an extra two furlongs. Unlike his rivals, Spike Jones is proven over this distance and rates a leading contender, along with Inis Oirr, who drops in class having contested a Grade 2 at Haydock last time out.
- BONTTAY has never been outside the first two in seven career starts and that consistency should count for a lot as she makes her handicap debut off a workable mark of 110. None of her rivals can boast a Listed win like her and it may be that Autumn Return and Walk Of No Shame, who has had a decent start to her hurdling career, give her the most to think about.
- Even though FORWARD PLAN steps up in class for this outing, the fact he was able to score by eight lengths over an extended 3m at Southwell earlier this month gives him strong claims of completing a hat-trick and he can deliver another bold showing off 10lb higher. Half Shot has been knocking on the door of late and is feared most, while Doyen Breed also warrants a market check.
- A game winner over an extended 2m at Doncaster earlier in the month, Ballygeary should not be underestimated despite having to shoulder a 12lb penalty for his two hurdling successes, but it could pay to side with the Lucinda Russell-trained CAITHNESS here. He was five and a quarter lengths back in fourth over 2m1f at Newcastle last month and is entitled to improve after only two starts. Pats Dream is unexposed and warrants respect on his return from a winter break.
- BOLLINGERANDKRUG made a successful return to action when winning over C&D three weeks ago, and a subsequent 8lb rise in the handicap might not be enough to stop him if he turns up here in similar form. Cedar Hill has four course victories on his CV and he's expected to go well from 4lb below his last winning mark, while Sword Of Fate is similarly well treated and he'd be a danger if able to dictate from the front.
- Bullets Hill (winner) got the better of Bertie's Ballet (second) when the pair met at Carlisle last month, but it would be no surprise to see the latter reverse that form on 3lb better terms. Coniston George looked a nice prospect when successful at Ayr two weeks ago and was worth more than the winning margin would suggest having run green in the closing stages. However, the vote goes to GO WEST, who had been knocking on the door prior to his recent Wincanton win and looks open to further progress for his leading yard.
- A 4lb rise for SAUSALITO's fourth-consecutive victory in a classified stakes event over C&D earlier in the month may not be enough to prevent the Gary Moore inmate from going in again, although this return to handicap company is likely to prove a sterner test. Where's Tom was collared in the dying strides at Kempton last Wednesday and he's feared most ahead of the in-form Pablo Prince.
- UMBERTO ran a race full of promise when runner-up on his debut at Kempton in November and, with any natural improvement, he could prove tough to pass in this contest. Ensued is another who may have improved for his racecourse bow at Salisbury in September and James Fanshawe's inmate can't be ruled out, with last-time-out winners Maid In Kentucky and Connemara Coast others to consider.
- Erosion Risk can't be faulted for his consistency, although his supporters may be left somewhat frustrated given he's finished runner-up on seven of his 11 appearances on the all-weather. With that in mind, a chance is taken on the lightly-raced CHAMPAGNE SARAH, who wasn't quite at her best when third at Newcastle over 6f in November but may regain the winning thread now returned to her last winning distance. Miss Mai Tai is another to consider.
- Badri has bounced back to form and will rightly have his supporters in his bid to land a hat-trick, while Kiwano was too good for Tone The Barone when they met over C&D three weeks ago and is taken to uphold the form. However, preference is for LIVE IN THE DREAM, who handles this surface, has been cut some slack by the handicapper and is taken to use this as a stepping stone to better things.
- The undefeated KERDOS impressed on both outings as a juvenile and is taken to make light work of this assignment now switching to handicaps. A rating of 90 suggests he's above-average and he could prove too strong for these rivals. Zouky is another unbeaten after two starts and she's shown a likable attitude. This demands more of her but she too is going the right way. Conquistador also appeals on these terms after making a winning start for his new yard.
- Inaam had a couple of these in behind when he kept on well to score over C&D 17 days ago and is taken to confirm superiority over Triggered (fourth) as he bids to shrug off a 4lb rise for that effort. He's won from higher marks before and undoubtedly has a reasonable chance of following up. However, MASHAAN (second) was just over a length behind Inaam that day and could be good value to gain revenge on these revised terms.
- The drop to 6f for the first time could make the difference needed for IKKARI to get off the mark. The daughter of Mehmas has shown a reasonable level of form in three outings to date and the way she travelled at Kempton, when returning from nine months off the track, suggested the filly is capable of progressing as a sprinter. Beauzon wasn't at his best over C&D at the start of the month and is better judged on his two efforts prior, while Epic Express and El Hombre are others capable of being in the mix.
- Runner-up in the EBF Final at Sandown a fortnight ago, INNESTON can strike on the drop in grade, with both the ground and slight drop in trip expected to suit. On the other hand, Artistic Choice should relish going up in distance, having finished second over the extended 2m here, while similar comments apply to the progressive Toothless. The hat-trick seeking Atlanta Brave and Blow Your Wad cannot be ruled out either.
- SUPER SIX looked to throw away his race at Hereford when behind the reopposing Honneur D'Ajonc (first), but he put it all together at Haydock since and there could be plenty more improvement forthcoming from the six-year-old. Heltenham is another who arrives in form, having won his last two, while The Big Bite was a determined winner over C&D on his latest start. Espoir De Guye and Riders Onthe Storm are both well-handicapped on the best of their form.
- Narrowly denied a hat-trick at Ayr, RUBY ISLAND can gain compensation in loftier company, having proven herself over this trip and with conditions in her favour. A mark of 118 on her handicap debut looks reasonable and she is narrowly preferred to easy Sedgefield winner Aubis Walk and Energy One, who was impressive at Ludlow. Just under a length separated Ilovethenightlife (first) and Moviddy (second) when they met at Doncaster and both have to enter the reckoning again.
- Love Is Golden made a winning start over hurdles here in February and he was not disgraced under a penalty at Doncaster last time. That said, preference is for his stablemate ANGEL'S DREAM, who won a French bumper in October and changed hands for 45,000 euros the following month. The rest all look to be up against it, but Lady Salvador is arguably the pick of them.
- A chance can be taken with SUMMER BRISE, who lacks race experience but she cost 110,000 pounds, is a half-sister to a bumper/hurdles winner, and her dam is closely related to Vroum Vroum Mag. Norman Fletcher sets the form standard based on his win at Southwell earlier in the year. Gentleman's Relish is another noteworthy newcomer, while Dartmoor Pirate and I'm A Lumberjack complete the shortlist.
- LE LIGERIEN has appeared to benefit hugely from the switch to the Joe Tizzard team, with victories at Plumpton and Hereford last month. The latter performance was particularly impressive and the 10-year-old is expected to handle a 7lb rise. Calgary Tiger backed up his surprise chasing debut success at Wincanton, which came after nearly two years off, when scoring over C&D and he commands plenty of respect along with fellow hat-trick seeker Not Available.
- BOLDMERE gained his first victory in over three years at Doncaster on his latest start and the 10-year-old, whose best form comes on flatter tracks, gets the vote to back that performance up. Cyclop made it two on the bounce here over further earlier in the month and has to enter calculations once again, while the booking of Harry Cobden is notable for Ruthless Article, who was last seen in winning action at Uttoxeter in July.
- Runner-up over an extended 1m1f on her latest outing, a 2lb raised mark looks unlikely to stop COLOANE having a say in proceedings dropping in trip and she should not be dismissed lightly. Annalee Lass had You Saw Brigadoon back in third when finishing a creditable second over C&D last time and is entitled to uphold that form, especially given Mark Winn knocks an additional 5lb off her back, but it would be dangerous to ignore either.
- A game winner over 6f at this course last time out, All In The Hips merits plenty of respect off 3lb higher. That said, GOLDKIT has shown enough on all three career starts to suggest that she can break her maiden here. So Chic and Samba Lady have also been knocking on the door of late and add further spice to the mix.
- NOGO'S DREAM made a pleasing return to action when finishing second over this trip at Lingfield last month and is entitled to go one better here. Exquisitely was consistent towards the back-end of last year and can give the selection plenty to think about, while Love Whisper and Caesars Pearl are others who merit places on the shortlist in an open event.
- Joyful Act merits plenty of respect but a wide draw could scupper her chances, so preference is for TRANQUIL ROSE. The daughter of Kingman cost the princely sum of 950,000 euro as a yearling and the half-sister to Native Trail should be ideally suited by this trip on her debut. The Gosden's also hold a strong hand here, with Roadway marginally preferred to her stablemate Midsummer Dance.
- Muscika demands the utmost respect as he goes in search of a third win from his last four starts, while Aberama Gold looks set to go well having been narrowly denied at Lingfield on his latest outing. ROYAL PARADE was only beaten three quarters of a length on his first start for Michael Appleby and, for a stable that often do well with their new recruits, he gets the verdict.
- GLORIOUS CHARMER returned to winning ways over C&D earlier in the month and a 3lb rise may not prevent another bold bid. My Boy Jack has proved a different proposition since blinkers were applied and, having lost little in defeat when runner-up at Southwell recently, he's feared most. Starjik posted an improved bid when third at Chelmsford and completes the shortlist.
- Twistaline appeared to appreciate the extended 1m1f trip in a classified contest here recently, but she may prove worth taking on now returning to handicaps. RED EVELYN displayed a game attitude when winning over C&D last Friday and a similar performance may be good enough to come out on top once more. Come On John has posted some sound efforts in defeat of late and is another to note.