The Betchworth Kid, Halla San and La Vecchia Scuola have all been in action over the jumps and should be race-fit but they may lack the class to land what looks a decent Listed contest. Apprimus won four times in Italy while Free Agent won on similar ground at York and Salisbury last season, while Askar Tau won the Doncaster Cup in 2009 and was highly tried thereafter. But the one to beat may be AKMAL, who is a very decent stayer if allowed to dominate as he proved in last year's Henry II Stakes at Sandown last May. John Dunlop's flashy chestnut found 2m4f too far in the Ascot Gold Cup next time and the ground turned against him in a couple of subsequent outings but he will have few excuses if not firing here.
Akmal 6-1 (9-5) Held up in touch, tracked winner 7f out, ridden 3f out, lost 2nd 1f out, no extra, 4th of 8, 9l behind Tastahil (9-0) at Newmarket 2m Grp 3 (1) gs in Oct.
Apprimus (IRE) 16-1 (9-6) Dwelt, headway to lead after 2f, headed halfway, led again over 2f out, soon headed, ridden and kept on one pace, 5th of 12, 6l behind Cheetah (8-9) at Kempton 1m 4f Listed stks (1) pol in Nov.
Askar Tau (FR) 16-1 (9-2) Close up, effort over 2f out, weakened, 5th of 8, 7l behind Gentoo (9-2) at Longchamp(FR) 2m 4f Grp 1 (1) sft in Oct.
Free Agent 9-2 (9-6) Took keen hold, held up in 6th, driven along and outpaced 2f out, rallied inside final furlong to 2nd close home, not able to reach winner, 2nd of 7, 1 1/2l behind Fictional Account (8-12) at Ascot 2m Listed stks (1) gs in Sep.
Halla San 20-1 (8-13) Held up towards rear on outer, ridden over 3f out, weakened over 2f out, 18th of 19, well behind Overturn (8-7) at Newcastle 2m hcap (2) gf in Jun.
Peppertree Lane (IRE) 20-1 (9-3) Chased winner, pushed along 3f out, lost 2nd 2f out and soon weakened, tailed off and eased, last of 6, 25l behind Electrolyser (9-3) at Ascot 2m Listed stks (1) gf in Sep '09.
The Betchworth Kid 12-1 (8-6) Held up behind, headway on outside 2f out, ridden over 1f out, stayed on well inside final furlong to go 2nd towards finish, not reached winner, 2nd of 22, 1 3/4l behind Times Up (8-13) at Doncaster 1m 4f hcp (2) gs in Nov.
La Vecchia Scuola (IRE) 22-1 (9-0) Close up on outside, lost place over 2f out, soon weakened, last of 22, 41l behind Times Up (8-13) at Doncaster 1m 4f hcp (2) gs in Nov.