LAST THREE MINUTES tops the shortlist of French Art, Talayeb and Ezdeyaad in what looks a very tricky final contest. Part-owned by Alex Ferguson and named in reference to Manchester United's dramatic late resurgence in the 1999 Champions League final, the selection makes his seasonal bow today. Although he was disappointing on his final start at this track when last seen in September, he now looks to be on a fair mark and might be worth chancing. Talayeb sneaks in at the bottom of the handicap and although he is yet to win in eight starts he cannot be dismissed, along with Highly Regal, Marajaa ad Grey Boy who all come here fit and fancied after recent performances. French Art was a winner when last seen in August for David Elsworth. He is ridden by Frankie Dettori on this handicap bow for a new yard and along with the returning Ezdeyaad looks one to keep on the right side of. Spring Goddess disappointed last time but is better than that, comments that also apply to Pritti Fabulous and Blue Spartan who return after a winter off. The market may help point to any other major players, with the likes of Blue Spartan, Councellor and Brouhaha all worthy of more than a cursory glance, but the most tentative of votes is given to Last Three Minutes.
Brouhaha 7-4fav (9-4) Tracked leaders, pushed along 3f out, ridden and carried right 1f out, running on to lead inside final furlong, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-80 (4) pol beating Never Ending Tale (9-3) by 3/4l, 7 ran.
Eastern Gift 16-1 (9-1) Held up in 3rd, closed over 2f out, ridden 2f out, weakened over 1f out, 5th of 6, 6l behind Scartozz (8-10) at Kempton 1m clm stks (6) pol.
French Art 4-11fav (9-3) Made all, led, 3 lengths clear 3f out, shaken up over 1f out, ridden well clear final furlong, unchallenged, pushed out, easily, won at Windsor 1m 3yo & 4yo mdn (5) gs in Aug beating Black Coffee (9-3) by 6l, 5 ran.
Priti Fabulous (IRE) 13-8fav (9-5) Steady start behind, effort 2f out, never able to challenge, 4th of 6, 5l behind Tactful (8-10) at Great Leighs 1m flls hcp (4) pol in Oct.
Samarinda (USA) 13-2 (9-4) Soon led, pressed 2f out to entering final furlong, soon headed, faded towards finish, 6th of 12, 2 3/4l behind Dubai Dynamo (8-11) at Kempton 1m hcp 0-95 (3) pol.
Spring Goddess (IRE) 7-1 (8-8) Held up towards rear, switched right over 4f, effort over 2f out, soon beaten, last of 8, 13l behind Aphrodisia (8-5) at Doncaster 1m 2f fll hcp (0-85) (4yo+) (4) gf.
Last Three Minutes (IRE) 12-1 (9-3) Behind, effort and hung right over 2f out, soon driven and weakened, 11th of 16, 16l behind Mawatheeq (9-4) at Ascot 1m 3yo hcp (4) gd in Sep.
Trafalgar Bay (IRE) 25-1 (9-1) Chased leaders stands side group over 1f out until headed by stands side group near finish, 5th of 20, 9l behind Mister Hardy (8-11) at Doncaster 7f hcp 0-85 (4) gd in Mar.
Mister Ross 15-8fav (8-8) Chased leaders, ridden and effort 2f out, weakened quickly over 1f out, 9th of 12, 11l behind Resplendent Nova (8-6) at Kempton 7f hcp (3) pol in Nov.
Ezdeyaad (USA) 6-1fav (8-11) Led, headed 3f out, weakened 2f out, soon eased, 22nd of 23, 36l behind Charlie Tipple (8-9) at Redcar 1m hcap (2) gd in Oct.
Blue Spartan (IRE) 4-1 (9-4) Tracked leader after 2f, ridden to challenge over 2f out, every chance 2f out, no extra, faded final furlong, 6th of 8, 3 1/2l behind Steele Tango (9-9) at Sandown 1m 1f 3yo hcp (3) gd in Jun.
Councellor (FR) 7-1 (9-2) Close up, ridden and weakened 2f out, last of 8, 5l behind Al Muheer (9-4) at Wolverhampton 7f hcp 0-85 (3) pol in Mar.
Bomber Command (USA) 20-1 (8-8) Always towards rear, 13th of 14, 10l behind Something (8-8) at Kempton 7f hcp 0-100 (2) pol.
Marajaa (IRE) 11-4 (9-0) Held up, headway over 2f out, hard ridden final furlong, no extra, 3rd of 7, 1 1/4l behind Brouhaha (9-4) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-80 (4) pol.
Highly Regal (IRE) 7-1 (9-0) Held up in touch, quickened to lead on outside 2f out, ridden clear over 1f out, ran on strongly, pushed out, won at Kempton 1m hcp 0-75 (5) pol beating Ryedale Ovation (8-9) by 2l, 8 ran.
Highland Harvest 15-2 (8-9) Took keen hold tracking leader, led inside final 4f, stayed on rails, driven along from 2f out, kept on well final furlong, caught near finish, 3rd of 12, 1/2l behind Look So (8-10) at Windsor 1m hcp (4) gs in Apr '08.
Grey Boy (GER) 5-1 (9-4) Mid-division, good headway to lead just over 1f out, ridden clear inside final furlong, readily, won at Kempton 7f hacp 0-70 (5) pol beating Magic Rush (9-3) by 2 1/4l, 14 ran.
Thunder Gorge (USA) 8-1 (9-0) Soon led, raced keenly, ridden 2f out, headed over 1f out, faded inside final furlong, 5th of 8, 5l behind Marajaa (8-13) at Kempton 1m hcp 0-80 (4) pol.
Mount Hadley (USA) 20-1 (8-11) In rear, pushed along over 2f out, ridden and kept on final furlong, never nearer, 6th of 12, 8l behind Hall Hee (8-11) at Great Leighs 1m hcp (4) pol in Oct.
Talayeb 15-8 (9-3) Led, ran wide entering straight, driven along and headed over 2f out, one pace and no impression when lost 2nd 1f out, 3rd of 10, 7l behind Who's This (9-12) at Lingfield 1m 1f 3yo & 4yo mdn (5) std in Jul.