A truly intricate puzzle that can be solved by backing RED GULCH in preference to Vanilla Loan and Ventura Cove. Ed Dunlop's Kyllachy gelding was a cosy winner at Wolverhampton in March and hasn't been seen since. His dam was a winner at three and is a half-sister to Fantastic Fellow, a winner of the Middle Park Stakes, so there is reason to assume that he will be better than this mark of 79 in time. Vanilla Loan steps back up in trip and that should suit after a lifeless Wolverhampton sprint, Ventura Cove holds Flaneur on their Thirsk run and races off identical terms today, whilst High Spice is well-treated at the weights as an 80-rated individual but she needs to run probably a lifetime best if she is to win first time up this year. Mon Brav tries blinkers, Excellent Guest is of more interest now dropped back in trip, whilst Dusty Spirit is consistent but has never really appealed as the most solid of six furlong horses and is yet to win over the trip. Goddess Of Light is not to be dismissed too readily given the likelihood that she will improve for her first run of the year, however we are happy to give Red Gulch the nomination.
Dusty Spirit 5-1 (9-1) Chased leaders, hard ridden to challenge over 1f out, weakened final furlong, 4th of 9, 4l behind Felsham (9-2) at Bath 5f 3yo hcp 0-80 (4) fm in Apr.
Excellent Guest 16-1 (8-13) Mid-division, effort 2f out, kept on one pace from over 1f out, 7th of 12, 12l behind Horseradish (8-9) at Yarmouth 7f 3yo hcp 0-85 (4) gd in Apr.
Flaneur 10-1 (9-8) With leader, led halfway, ridden and hung left over 1f out, soon joined, headed post, 2nd of 12, shd behind Ginger Ted (9-5) at Hamilton 6f 3yo hcp 0-80 (4) gd.
Goddess Of Light (IRE) 12-1 (7-11) Never better than mid-division, 9th of 15, 5l behind Miss Gorica (10-8) at Navan 6f hcap gf in Apr.
High Spice (USA) 12-1 (8-13) Held up in rear, effort 2f out, not quicken over 1f out, kept on final 100 yards, 5th of 10, 4 1/2l behind Freeforaday (9-4) at Kempton 6f 2yo hcp 0-90 (4) pol in Oct.
Mon Brav 9-2 (9-4) Mid-division, headway to chase leaders over 2f out, soon under pressure and no impression, 4th of 10, 6l behind Masked Dance (9-2) at Warwick 7f 3yo hcp 0-80 (4) sft.
Red Gulch 6-4fav (8-12) Tracked leaders and keen, went 2nd 5f out, led 2f out, kept on well, won at Wolverhampton 7f mdn stks (5) pol in Mar beating West Emirates (9-13) by 2 1/4l, 7 ran.
Vanilla Loan (IRE) 11-8fav (9-11) Outpaced throughout, 8th of 9, 17l behind Val C (8-13) at Wolverhampton 5f 3yo hcp 0-65 (6) pol in Apr.
Ventura Cove (IRE) 8-1 (9-0) Tracked leaders, ridden to challenge over 1f out, led narrowly entering final furlong, stayed on under pressure, just held on, won at Thirsk 6f 3yo stk 0-75 (5) gd beating Flaneur (9-0) by nk, 9 ran.