Gulf Punch dead-heated for first with Harris at Catterick last month and a further 6lb rise may prove beyond her. Hopatina is also chasing a hat trick after winning a lower grade handicap at Chepstow in November. It was heavy ground on that occasion and she should figure again despite an 8lb hike. FOUNTAINS MARY opened her account over timber when successful at Taunton last time and she gets the vote as she's also proven on today's surface. Fortuna Rose hasn't raced since June and Lady Fingers has shown little so far.
Gulf Punch 5-1fav (11-12) Held up in last pair on outside, headway before 8th, outpaced in 5th after 3 out, ridden and rallied after 2 out, ran on well flat, led final stride, won at Catterick 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd in Dec deadheating with Harris (11-8), 10 ran.
Hopatina (IRE) 8-1 (11-9) Held up in last trio, not fluent 1st, hit next, dropped in rear after 5th, smooth headway on outside approaching 4 out, went 2nd before next, closing when hung right under pressure between last 2, quickened to challenge last, led final 100 yards, won at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-100 (5) hvy in Nov beating Ifyouthinkso (11-12) by 1l, 6 ran.
Fountains Mary 8-1 (11-6) In rear, reminder after 5th and 6th, ridden from 8th, headway when not fluent 2 out, finished well final 100 yards, led close home, won at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd in Dec beating The Rattler Obrien (11-4) by 1l, 10 ran.
Fortuna Rose 7-2 (10-11) Chased leaders, pushed along when hampered on bend before 9th, soon behind, tailed off and pulled up after 3 out, in a race won by Blackwell Synergy (11-7) at Southwell 3m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gd in Jun, 10 ran.
Lady Fingers 50-1 (10-12) Mid-division, well beaten approaching 3 out, 8th of 15, 43l behind Legacy Gold (10-12) at Uttoxeter 2m mdn hdl (5) gs in Dec.