Whiplash Willie and Cunning Act have massive absences to overcome although the fact that both are being persevered with is interesting. The market should tell us more but NICHOLASCOPERNICUS is preferred in a contest perhaps not as competitive as on initial inspection. Ed Walker's gelding was far from disgraced in really competitive handicaps last term, culminating in a respectable seventh in the November Handicap. Hopefully he'll be ready for this reappearance as he looks to have a clear form chance. Albert Bridge is a rare Flat runner for Emma Lavelle and a good run is anticipated after a cosy success in a Plumpton hurdle when last seen. He rates the main threat as he'll handle the ground, while Ridgeway Storm is unexposed but does need to improve from what he's delivered in three maiden starts.
Whiplash Willie 10-1 (9-2) Raced wide, held up in touch, smooth headway over 3f out, led travelling well 2f out, briefly headed over 1f out, headed by winner 1f out, rallied towards finish, always held, 2nd of 19, 3/4l behind Parlour Games (8-8) at York 1m 6f 3yo hcp 0-105 (2) gd in Aug '11.
Nicholascopernicus (IRE) 10-1 (8-13) Mid-division, ridden and headway 2f out, kept on same pace, 7th of 23, 18l behind Conduct (9-2) at Doncaster 1m 4f hcp (2) sft in Nov.
Cunning Act 9-4fav (9-0) Held up, headway on outer over 2f, ridden to chase winner approaching final furlong, no impression inside final furlong, 2nd of 10, 1 1/2l behind Thimaar (8-11) at Ascot 2m hcp (3) gd in Sep '11.
Albert Bridge 25-1 (8-7) Tracked leader, led over 5f out, headed 4f out, weakened over 1f out, 20th of 33, 21l behind Scatter Dice (8-8) at Newmarket 2m 2f hcp (2) gs in Oct.
Duchess Of Gazeley (IRE) 33-1 (8-10) Held up, headway 2f out, kept on same pace, 7th of 14, 10l behind Litigant (9-5) at Lingfield 2m cnd stks (4yo+) (2) pol in Apr.
Riptide 14-1 (9-3) Tracked winner until ridden over 8f out, soon in rear, struggling from 4f out, last of 4, 27l behind Statutory (8-5) at Pontefract 2m 2f cond Stakes (3) gd in Oct.
Ridgeway Storm (IRE) 16-1 (9-13) Steadied start, held up in mid-division, pushed along when not clear run and switched left over 1f out, ridden and plugged on inside final furlong, went 3rd final strides, 3rd of 12, 6l behind Arod (8-8) at Windsor 1m 2f mdn stks (5) gd in Apr.
Spice Fair 16-1 (8-13) Dwelt, in rear, ridden over 2f out, stayed on to take 4th place towards finish, 4th of 7, 10l behind White Nile (9-6) at Kempton 2m hcp 0-95 (3) pol in Apr.
Rockfella 33-1 (8-9) Led after 1f, headed over 4f out, soon lost place, eased over 2f out, last of 13, well behind Mysterious Man (9-1) at Newmarket 1m 5f hcp 0-100 (2) gs in Aug.