BALTIMORE ROCK is difficult to get away from in this opener. After a close-up third to It's A Doddle at Ffos Las on his hurdling debut, he got off the mark in smooth fashion at Wincanton and the handicapper hasn't gone overboard. He has a lot more scope than today's rivals. Loyaute might not be suited by the drop back to 2m while Santo Thomas, though on a winning mark, hasn't looked like scoring this season. Pilgreen returns from a long absence and the remainder are all woefully out of sorts.
Baltimore Rock (IRE) 4-6fav (11-4) Held up towards rear, headway before 3rd, went 2nd from next, led before last, kept on, won at Wincanton 2m nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan beating Midnight Thunder (11-4) by 2l, 8 ran.
Xaarcet (IRE) 16-1 (11-1) Tracked leaders, joined leader 6th, weakened before last, 13th of 14, 37l behind Bob Tucker (10-6) at Wincanton 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) hvy in Jan.
Loyaute (FR) 7-2 (11-2) Held up in touch, blundered 8th, ridden and lost place after 3 out, rallied and went moderate 3rd next, kept on under pressure, went 2nd flat, no chance with easy winner, 2nd of 9, 15l behind Beyeh (11-4) at Southwell 2m 4f (4) gs in Dec.
Dark And Dangerous (IRE) 20-1 (11-4) Led, pushed along before 3 out, soon headed and weakened, 9th of 12, 45l behind Forced Family Fun (10-7) at Doncaster 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs in Jan.
Pilgreen (FR) 1-2fav (11-8) Led, driven and headed narrowly before 2 out, ridden and every chance between last 2, kept on under pressure to chase winner flat, always held, 2nd of 7, 2l behind Hes Our Lad (10-10) at Stratford 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Mar '11.
Santo Thomas (FR) 7-4fav (11-11) Tracked leaders on outside, ridden before 2 out, went 2nd between last 2, kept on same pace, no impression with winner, 2nd of 8, 6l behind Persian Herald (11-5) at Southwell 2m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) hvy in Jan.
Drussell (IRE) 10-1 (10-2) Tracked leaders, driven after 4 out, 4th and beaten next, soon weakened, tailed off, last of 7, well behind Act Of Kalanisi (11-12) at Ffos Las 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) hvy in Dec.
Dalmo 9-1 (10-9) Held up in rear, mistake 2nd, not fluent 4th, ridden after 5th, soon well behind, tailed off, 9th of 10, well behind Maoi Chinn Tire (11-12) at Uttoxeter 2m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gf in May.