Four year olds have won the last three renewals of this race and provided the first three home in 2008 so their generation appears to be the sensible place to start. Ithinkbest and Brunston may prove to be the best of them but we're going to buck the trends and side with SHAMALI. Confront proved last year that it's possible to carry a big weight to victory in this contest and Shamali also appears to have the scope to make up into a Pattern class performer. Willie Haggas' runner has needed a run on each of his two seasons to date which is a concern but he won his last two starts in the style of a smart performer and it looks significant that connections have kept him in training at five. Sir Michael Stoute four year olds are to be feared too but Ithinkbest has taken a while to get the hang of things and has to prove that he can survive at this level, although, it must be said, it would be no surprise were he to do so. Brunston was a surprise winner of the Spring Cup where there were plenty of hard luck stories in behind including turf maiden Dalradian who met with serious interference. Viva Vettori was second in this race last year from a 1lb lower mark and could figure as may Northern raiders Albaqaa and Tartan Gigha whilst the talented Riggins is a fascinating runner on debut for a new yard. This is a fascinating race with many angles but Shamali may be able to defy another absence and complete his hat-trick.
Distant Memories (IRE) 8-1 (9-7) Held up mid-division, headway to chase leaders over 3f out, every chance over 1f out, kept on same pace, 2nd of 16, 3/4l behind Albaqaa (8-13) at Pontefract 1m 2f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in Apr.
Shamali 1-2fav (9-6) Tracked leader, challenged 3f out, led 2f out, soon clear easily, won at Ascot 1m 2f stks 0-95 (2) gf in Jul beating Proponent (9-6) by 4l, 4 ran.
Albaqaa 9-4fav (8-13) Held up mid-division, headway to chase leaders over 2f out, soon ridden, led entering final furlong, driven out, won at Pontefract 1m 2f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in Apr beating Distant Memories (9-7) by 3/4l, 16 ran.
Riggins (IRE) 11-2fav (9-1) Took keen hold, in touch, weakened over 3f out, 16th of 18, 28l behind Sirvino (8-8) at York 1m 2f hcap (2) gd in Jul.
Tartan Gigha (IRE) 6-1 (8-13) Held up in last pair, headway on outside over 1f out, stayed on to 2nd inside final furlong, no chance with easy winner, 2nd of 8, 3 1/2l behind Mabait (8-12) at Sandown 1m hcp 0-100 (2) gd in Apr.
Kaolak (USA) 50-1 (8-11) Led until over 3f out, 18th of 21, 49l behind Penitent (9-2) at Doncaster 1m hcp (4yo+) (2) sft in Mar.
Big Bay (USA) 20-1 (8-8) Held up towards rear, ridden over 2f out, soon weakened, eased, tailed off, last of 23, well behind Brunston (8-2) at Newbury 1m hcp (2) gd in Apr.
Brunston 40-1 (8-2) Held up towards rear, headway on outside over 2f out, edged right and led 1f out, joined well inside final furlong, just prevailed, won at Newbury 1m hcp (2) gd in Apr beating Marajaa (8-4) by hd, 23 ran.
Sandor 15-2 (9-7) Held up mid-division, pushed along over 4f out, headway over 2f out, weakened over 1f out, 11th of 12, 7l behind Embsay Crag (8-0) at Chester 1m 2f 3yo hcp 0-90 (3) gf in Aug.
Tartan Gunna 8-1 (8-12) Slowly into stride, soon recovered and in touch, haampered on rail over 2f out, stayed on inside final furlong, 3rd of 15, 4l behind Alainmaar (9-10) at Epsom Downs 1m 2f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in Apr.
Viva Vettori 16-1 (8-6) Prominent, took keen hold, edged right well over 2f out, faded final furlong, 11th of 23, 7l behind Brunston (8-2) at Newbury 1m hcp (2) gd in Apr.
Ithinkbest 12-1 (9-0) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd 3f out, led on inside entering final furlong, ridden and kept on well towards finish, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-85 (4) pol in Oct beating Farleigh House (9-6) by nk, 13 ran.
Elliptical (USA) 6-1 (9-3) Led, ridden and headed over 1f out, not pace of winner, stayed on well for 2nd, 2nd of 12, 3 1/2l behind Forte Dei Marmi (9-0) at Newbury 1m 2f hcp 0-85 (4) gd in Apr.
Dalradian (IRE) 20-1 (8-0) In touch, bumped about from over 2f out until lost place over 1f out, switched left entering final furlong, kept on, 7th of 23, 3 1/2l behind Brunston (8-2) at Newbury 1m hcp (2) gd in Apr.
Marvo 16-1 (8-5) Slowly into stride, ridden and headway over 1f out, kept on to chase winner inside final furlong, no impression, 2nd of 15, 7l behind Harrison George (9-4) at Pontefract 1m hcp 0-95 (3) gd in Apr.
Negotiation (IRE) 14-1 (9-4) Chased winner over 2f, stayed close up until ridden over 2f out and soon weakened, 10th of 11, 18l behind Everybody Knows (9-0) at Windsor 1m hcp 0-85 (4) gf in Apr.
Lord Theo 40-1 (8-4) Chased leader until over 3f out, soon weakened, 14th of 15, 45l behind Alainmaar (9-10) at Epsom Downs 1m 2f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in Apr.