Sarando has been eased in the weights again, despite a couple of recent placed efforts, but seems better suited by a thorough test of stamina nowadays. Embsay Crag has gone up 7lb for winning narrowly at Wetherby but that was a better race and Philip Kirby's charge should go well. Thomas Junior makes his handicap debut and is worth a second look but there may be more to come from GHOST OF A SMILE now that connections appear to have found his best trip. He was a fair fourth over course and distance last time and has been dropped 3lb since with a 5lb claimer further helping his cause.
Zakatal 6-1 (11-2) Chased leaders, ridden and lost place over 5f out, soon behind, tailed off, 7th of 11, well behind Gogeo (11-2) at Southwell 2m 2f n h flat (4) std in Feb.
Embsay Crag 7-1 (10-3) Held up towards rear, headway into mid-division 4th, challenged on inside after 4 out, led next, switched towards stands side rail between last 2, ridden and kept on flat, just held on, won at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Jan beating Shimla Dawn (11-8) by hd, 8 ran.
Sarando 16-1 (11-9) Prominent, led 2nd until next, chased leader, led again 7th, headed before 2 out, lost 2nd approaching 2 out, ridden and weakened between last 2, 3rd of 12, 21l behind Virginia Ash (11-2) at Plumpton 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Jan.
Thomas Junior (FR) 4-1 (11-4) Tracked leader, not fluent 5th, led when not fluent 3 out, ridden and headed before next, soon beaten, lost 2nd towards finish, 3rd of 14, 12l behind Milo Man (11-11) at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
El Indio (IRE) 16-1 (10-11) With leader, weakened from 3 out, 4th of 9, 27l behind Flementime (10-11) at Southwell 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb.
Ghost Of A Smile (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Took keen hold, soon mid-divsion, headway after 7th, soon ridden, went 4th 2 out, pressing for modest 3rd when hit last, no impression, 4th of 10, 21l behind Waldorf Salad (11-7) at Huntingdon 2m 4f (4) hvy in Jan.
Annaluna (IRE) 33-1 (10-13) Held up towards rear, headway 4 out, soon ridden, weakened well before next, tailed off, 7th of 10, well behind Still Believing (11-0) at Ludlow 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Feb.