Antepost favourite Hanoverian Baron is hugely respected off bottom-weight however Clive Cox and Luca Cumani have farmed this race in recent years and it is RED MERLIN who is taken to repeat last-year's win at the main expense of Fiery Lad. He may not be the easiest of rides but there is no denying that the selection has plenty of ability, as seen when winning this race off an 8lb lower mark last year. Two efforts in Listed grade this year have been fruitless but the return to a big-field handicap looks ideal and he can pounce late to win again. Hanoverian Baron has won three of his last four starts and he proved at York last time that this trip is within range and a 5lb rise in the weights may just underestimate him. Also considered are The Fonz who won despite being keen at Windsor last week, Itlaaq who is on the upgrade and has won at the track before, and also Reve De Nuit who was well-backed ahead of his Newmarket win and he should go close with confidence high. The drop in trip will suit Spirit Is Needed and he looks a good each way option, whilst Final Victory and last-year's runner-up Munsef (first-time cheek-pieces) need to bounce back from Ascot disappointments. Fiery Lad and Thin Red Line were closely-matched at Epsom in June, whilst Dangerous Midge and Submariner ran well behind Cill Rialaig last time. The drop in trip will suit Red Cadeaux, Hillview Boy was a Hamilton Listed winner when last seen, whilst Almiqdaad is intriguingly fitted with blinkers for the first time. In an ultra-competitive renewal the vote is given to Red Merlin.
Fiery Lad (IRE) 8-1 (9-7) Behind, ridden 3f out, never dangerous, 9th of 15, 9l behind Rainbow Peak (9-4) at Royal Ascot 1m 2f listed hcp 0-110 (1) gf in Jun.
Munsef 5-1 (9-2) Held up towards rear, some headway over 2f out, never reached leaders, 10th of 18, 20l behind Bergo (9-2) at Royal Ascot 2m 6f stks (2) gf in Jun.
Almiqdaad 6-4fav (9-4) Behind, driven over 2f out, ridden to chase leaders over 1f out, one pace and no impression when edged left final furlong, 5th of 8, 7l behind Sweet Lightning (8-8) at Chester 1m 2f hcp 0-100 (2) gd in May.
Red Merlin (IRE) 14-1 (9-0) Keen, in rear, ridden over 2f out, never a factor, 6th of 8, 15l behind Holberg (9-0) at Goodwood 1m 4f Listed stks (1) gd in Jun.
Hillview Boy (IRE) 11-4 (8-11) Held up in rear, headway over 2f out, ridden to lead over 1f out, soon hung right, ridden clear, won at Hamilton 1m 4f listed hcp 0-110 (1) gd in May beating Yes Mr President (9-9) by 2l, 7 ran.
Dangerous Midge (USA) 11-1 (9-3) Mid-division on outside, driven along 5f out, wide and driven along over 2f out, plugged on for pressure inside final furlong, not pace to trouble leaders, 6th of 17, 4l behind Cill Rialaig (8-11) at Royal Ascot 1m 4f hcp 105 (2) gf in Jun.
Thin Red Line (IRE) 11-2 (8-12) In touch, ridden over 2f out, stayed on same pace final furlong, 3rd of 12, 1 3/4l behind Fiery Lad (9-8) at Epsom Downs 1m 2f hcp (2) gd in Jun.
Red Cadeaux 10-1 (8-7) Hampered and squeezed out after 1f, behind, headway on inside over 2f out, soon ridden, one pace when hampered and checked inside final furlong, 8th of 17, 7l behind Mamlook (8-12) at Chester 2m 3f hcp (2) gd in May.
Siberian Tiger (IRE) 16-1 (10-7) Held up towards rear, headway approaching final furlong, stayed on well, never able to challenge, 4th of 18, 9l behind Desert Recluse (8-3) at York 1m 4f ladys hcp 0-95 (3) gd in Jun.
Submariner (USA) 13-2 (9-0) Raced wide in early stages, in touch, effort on outside under pressure 2f out, driven over 1f out, faded, 8th of 17, 5l behind Cill Rialaig (8-11) at Royal Ascot 1m 4f hcp 105 (2) gf in Jun.
Demolition 16-1 (9-2) Chased leaders, ridden to challenge 3f out, soon every chance, weakened over 1f out, 4th of 13, 3 1/2l behind Distant Memories (9-13) at York 1m 1f hcp 105 (2) gd in Jun.
Final Victory 16-1 (8-11) Always towards rear, no progress under pressure over 2f out, 12th of 17, 8l behind Cill Rialaig (8-11) at Royal Ascot 1m 4f hcp 105 (2) gf in Jun.
Spirit Is Needed (IRE) 22-1 (8-6) Tracked leaders, pushed along over 3f out, chased winner over 2f out, weakened over 1f out, 9th of 19, 11l behind Overturn (8-7) at Newcastle 2m hcap (2) gf in Jun.
Reve De Nuit (USA) 9-1 (9-6) Held up, headway when not clear run entering final 2f, effort between horses when struck by rivals whip over 1f out, led inside final furlong, ran on, won at Newmarket 1m 2f hcp 0-100 (2) gf in Jun beating Classic Punch (10-0) by 1 1/4l, 7 ran.
Itlaaq 11-4fav (9-5) Held up, headway over 3f out, ridden to lead over 1f out, founed extra when challenged inside final furlong, won at Haydock 1m 2f hcp 0-85 (4) gs in Jun beating Satwa Moon (8-13) by hd, 12 ran.
The Fonz 2-1fav (8-9) Led early, took keen hold, prominent, pushed along and lost ground on front pair over 3f out, closed 2f out, edged right and led 1f out, driven out, won at Windsor 1m 4f hcp 0-100 (2) gf in Jun beating Mildoura (9-0) by 1/2l, 8 ran.
Hanoverian Baron 7-1 (8-3) Mid-division, headway over 3f out, led over 2f out, ridden over 1f out, kept on well, won at York 1m 4f hcp 0-105 (2) gf in May beating Crackentorp (8-11) by 2 1/4l, 15 ran.