Patrick Pilley's 5lb claim cancels out POW WOW's burden of top weight and, full of confidence following two recent victories at Salisbury, the three-year-old son of Medicean looks like the one that they all have to beat. Conkering Hero won readily on the all-weather at Lingfield and warrants plenty of respect back on turf with Adam Kirby booked, while Pete So High is another to take seriously for an in-form stable.
A small but competitive field with slight preference for PASTFACT. Malcolm Saunders' charge receives weight off each of these opponents and is sure to go close if arriving in the same mood as when scoring gamely over C&D recently. Other last-time-out scorers In The Spotlight and Secret Agent have definite chances although most feared is handicap debutant Del Parco, who has been fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.
TULIP FEVER stepped up on her promising debut performance when gamely landing a class 3 novice stakes event at York and, with further improvement on the cards, she could give weight and a beating to these rivals. Mraseel has struck the crossbar in both starts since equipped with cheekpieces (worn again) and she is the obvious danger, although any market support for Ladycammyofclare could well be worth noting.
Robert Cowell saddled the winner of this race in both 2010 and 2012 and he appears to have another cracking chance with the unbeaten STORM OVER this time around. The Elnadim colt built on last year's Wolverhampton maiden success when scoring impressively on his seasonal/handicap debut at Redcar last month and he potentially looks a notch above these rivals. Jashma won his only previous visit here and rates the biggest threat, ahead of Coronation Cottage.
It might pay to side with BELLEDESERT, who is already a triple C&D scorer and ran right up to her best when third in a class 3 handicap at Goodwood last time. Pixeleen is another proven at the track and she must enter calculations dropping down from Listed company, while Miracle Garden and Under The Covers are others to keep an eye on.
Smart hurdler Rolling Maul is an interesting runner on his Flat debut and could come to the fore if this turns into a real test, but he might not have the speed to live with a couple of these. Park Paddocks was fourth here two starts back and harbours solid claims on that run, but John Gosden's TOUWARI is readily preferred having turned in his best effort yet when third in a warm Sandown maiden earlier this month.
Stormbound has been in really good form of late and looks the obvious place to start having followed an easy win at Brighton with a runner-up finish back there last time. Moi Aussie has been in really good form and should give it a good go from the front again but perhaps SUITSUS is worth sticking with after he stormed clear to win at Brighton last month. Aye Aye Skipper, another recent victor, completes the shortlist.
No reason to oppose the hat-trick seeking POW WOW, who if anything should improve for this step up in trip. This is a drop in class for Pete So High and he is taken to fill the forecast spot, probably at the expense of wide-margin AW winner Conkering Hero.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT was value for extra when winning at Yarmouth a fortnight ago and can defy a 6 lb rise for another success. Pastfact also won last time, landing a gamble at this venue, and he demands obvious respect. Del Parco is an interesting handicap debutant for Clive Cox.
TULIP FEVER confirmed the promise of her debut when narrowly scoring at York 12 days ago and on that evidence, is up to defying a penalty. Mraseel is slightly more exposed but is the obvious threat unless newcomer Ladycammyofclare is pretty useful.
STORM OVER can go on improving for a while yet and can maintain his unbeaten record here. C&D winner Jashma could be the one for the forecast.
PIXELEEN hasn't tasted success for some time but has looked as good as ever in stronger events than this of late, third at listed level at Salisbury last time. She can capitalise on the return to calmer waters partnered by Adam Kirby, with Highly Sprung who has fallen in the weights and Under the Covers a couple of others to consider.
This is a very late debut in this sphere for fairly useful hurdler ROLLING MAUL, and it remains to be seen whether he has the pace for it, but the standard setters Park Paddocks and Touwari don't possess the most compelling of profiles (both sport headgear) so he could be worth chancing.
HOT MUSTARD's latest performance has to go down as a shade disappointing, yet he is on a fair mark judged on the pick of his efforts, and in the hope first-time cheekpieces perk him up he could be worth chancing. Stormbound arrives in good order and along with Moi Aussie, heads up the dangers in the finale.