THE SNAIL is now 29lbs higher than when his winning spree began but he's difficult to oppose and gets the vote, with Whats Up Woody and Golden Globe helping to make this his toughest test yet. Evan Williams' charge has now won five on the spin over hurdles and fences, the last of which coming by four lengths just over a week ago. He races off a mark of 115 here under a mandatory penalty but the handicapper will be bumping him up even further in the future so it seems a good decision for connections to come here, one that we hope will be rewarded. Not, of course, to say that this will be anything like easy. Whats Up Woody makes his handicap debut having won over this trip last time and a mark of 116 seems fair, although perhaps connections aren't too pleased with it as they've turned to Ryan Mania and his 3lb claim to help ease the burden. Golden Globe's win last time was an impressive one but it did come in selling company, so whilst he remains unexposed and in with a chance this mark of 109 and the switch to better company does ask a big question. Dan Buoy is another to take seriously as his win last time has been franked in no uncertain terms, although we feel the handicapper's 10lb rise might find him out, so of marginally more interest is Young Buddy who may enjoy this step up to three miles and remains feasibly treated. Brackenmoss disappointed last time but remains capable of better although it remains to be seen whether she's got the stamina required for this trip, Hope Road ran well in novice company last time but has to shoulder top weight and Peters Star will need to bounce back from a lacklustre effort when last seen and may just be in the grip of the assessor. This is another competitive affair but The Snail has been on a roll of late and looks the percentage call.
Hope Road 10-11fav (11-5) Held up towards rear, hampered 6th, not much room when hampered approaching 3 out, driven 2 out, weakened inside final furlong, 3rd of 14, 11l behind Billie Magern (10-7) at Worcester 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gf in Jul.
Brackenmoss (IRE) 9-2 (10-13) In rear, ridden approaching 2 out, kept on approaching last, never nearer, 6th of 13, 17l behind Sendali (10-0) at Catterick 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Jan.
Whats Up Woody (IRE) 5-6fav (11-0) Tracked leader, led approaching 3rd, headed approaching last, rallied run-in, led towards finish, won at Hexham 3m mdn hdl (5) hvy in Dec beating Only The Best (11-0) by nk, 9 ran.
Kilcrea Asla (IRE) 14-1 (11-2) Tracked leader, led approaching 8th, headed 6 out, disputing lead when fell 5 out, in a race won by Watch My Back (11-4) at Doncaster 2m 3f hcp chs 0-140 (2) gd in Dec, 15 ran.
The Snail 3-1fav (11-10) Tracked leaders, hit 5th, mistake 5 out, every chance 2 out, led before last, stayed on well, won at Musselburgh 3m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd in Jan beating Sonara (10-1) by 4l, 11 ran.
Dan Buoy (FR) 10-1 (10-12) Held up, headway 3 out, led after next, stayed on well, won at Southwell 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in Jan beating Tarateeno (11-4) by 1 1/2l, 14 ran.
Peters Star (IRE) 9-2 (11-5) In touch, ridden and weakened from 4 out, 8th of 13, well behind Winterwood (11-10) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd in Dec.
Golden Globe (IRE) 5-2fav (10-12) Held up, headway 6th, challenged 2 out, led last, ridden clear final 100 yards, won at Uttoxeter 2m sll hdl (4-8yo) (5) hvy in Nov beating Le Corvee (11-5) by 7l, 6 ran.
Final Veto 6-1 (11-4) Chased leaders, reminders after 5th, ridden and outpaced 3 out, soon weakened, last of 7, well behind Deep Reflection (10-8) at Market Rasen 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) sft in Dec.
New Shuil (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Tracked winner until approaching 4th, chased leaders, outpaced from 3 out, 4th of 8, 39l behind Lord Generous (11-5) at Southwell 3m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Dec.
Mini Minster 14-1 (11-1) With leaders, ridden and effort 2 out, kept on, 4th of 11, 4 1/2l behind Laughing Game (10-1) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Jan.
Calfraz 8-1 (11-5) Mid-division, driven 3 out, headway under pressure next, soon ridden, stayed on to chase winner flat, 2nd of 11, 3/4l behind Laughing Game (10-1) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Jan.
Young Buddy 7-2fav (10-13) Chased leaders, ridden 2 out, kept on same pace approaching last, 5th of 10, 9l behind Willandrich (10-10) at Market Rasen 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-95 (5) sft in Jan.