Saphir River made the most of his slide down the weights to score over a shorter trip at Wetherby on Boxing day. He should figure once again but Western Jo is unproven in testing ground having found only one too good at Doncaster last time. UGLY BUG came out second best in a battle for the line with Awaywiththegreys at Chepstow three weeks ago. Trip and ground suit Seamus Mullins' charge and he gets the vote dropping down a grade. The champion jockey gets the leg-up on the lightly-raced Champagne Rian. The latter makes his handicap debut today while Extreme Impact is on a tempting mark but returning from a lengthy absence. Brave Buck will relish the underfoot conditions but is upped in class.
Saphir River (FR) 12-1 (11-4) Held up, headway 3 out, led next, driven out, won at Wetherby 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Dec beating Rattlin (11-0) by 3 1/2l, 8 ran.
Hada Men (USA) 12-1 (11-2) Mid-division, under pressure 4th, soon weakened, 6th of 9, 31l behind Sausalito Sunrise (11-1) at Haydock 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (3) sft in Dec.
Western Jo (IRE) 14-1 (10-9) Tended to jump left, not fluent 1st, held up towards rear, headway to chase leaders approaching 3 out, went left final 3, 2nd between last 2, driven and kept on same pace flat, 2nd of 11, 1 1/2l behind Mister Dillon (10-11) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gs in Dec.
Ugly Bug 8-1 (10-7) Led, ridden approaching 3 out, dived at last, headed flat, kept on, 2nd of 10, nk behind Awaywiththegreys (11-10) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) hvy in Dec.
Champagne Rian (IRE) 12-1 (10-7) Led, headed when mistake 2 out, soon ridden, kept on same pace, no impression approaching last, lost 2nd flat, 3rd of 7, 4l behind Sausalito Sunrise (10-9) at Chepstow 3m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Dec.
Extreme Impact 15-2 (11-2) Held up, ridden 6th, last and struggling next, rallied approaching last, stayed on, 3rd of 9, 4 1/2l behind Mister Hyde (11-11) at Ffos Las 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) hvy in May '12.
Quel Elite (FR) 8-1 (11-2) Held up in rear, headway 4 out, soon chasing leaders, hampered last, kept on same pace, 4th of 6, 2 1/2l behind The Young Master (11-2) at Sedgefield 3m 3f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) hvy.
Brave Buck 4-1fav (10-10) Led 2nd, dived at 5th, hit 8th, headed next, chased leader and every chance when blundered 3 out, weakened and eased soon after, 10th of 14, 40l behind Josies Orders (11-6) at Ascot 3m nov hcp hdl 0-120 (4) sft in Dec.