This looks a veritable minefield but our narrow preference is for TRANSMISSION ahead of Follow The Flag and Istiqdaam. Brian Smart's yard is in fine form and this one advertised that when scoring last time, his second consecutive success. He's landed a good draw in four and the step up to a mile isn't a problem, so in a competitive race he just appeals as the most likely to give his running. Follow The Flag did well to score two starts ago over an inadequate seven and his staying-on third last time added further credence to the belief he needs this step up to a mile, so off the same mark and for a yard in decent for he could go close to defying top weight ahead of Istiqdaam. The last-named has shown progressive form for Tim Easterby and a 1lb rise for third last time is less of a concern than the switch to Fibresand. The gelding's breeding does little to answer whether he'll act so a watching brief is best advised, although if he does relish it he'll be a serious player. Prohibition showed signs of a return to form last time, in the process showing this surface holds no terrors, so with the extra furlong here in his favour he rates a player, as does Ours who scored decisively here last time. Hit The Switch goes particularly well over course and distance but the combination of a rise in class and a 5lb higher mark makes him opposable, whilst Elusive Fame acts here but has a bit to find with Follow The Flag on past running. Hilbre Court was held behind Ours last time and doesn't appear likely to reverse that running, River Ardeche is relatively lightly-raced but surely needs further and Im Ova Ere Dad is a solid if pretty exposed sort who could sneak a place. There are many horses in with a chance of landing this competitive race, but our idea of the one most likely to oblige is Transmission.
Follow The Flag (IRE) 5-1 (8-13) Slowly into stride, in rear and pushed along, ridden and edged right over 2f out, headway final furlong, ran on to take 3rd towards finish, not reached front pair, 3rd of 8, 1l behind Snow Bay (9-3) at Southwell 7f hcp 0-85 (4) fbs.
Ours (IRE) 6-1 (8-12) Slowly into stride, behind, headway over 2f out, led inside final furlong, ran on well, won at Southwell 1m hcp 0-75 (5) fbs in Dec beating Hilbre Court (9-4) by 2 1/4l, 10 ran.
Im Ova Ere Dad (IRE) 4-1 (9-4) Held up towards rear, raced keenly, headway over 2f out, hanging left from over 1f out, one pace inside final furlong, 5th of 7, 3l behind Luck Will Come (8-6) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-80 (4) pol in May.
River Ardeche 5-1 (8-3) Close up, ridden 4f out, weakened 2f out, last of 6, 22l behind Lucky Punt (8-9) at Southwell 1m 3f hcp 0-95 (3) fbs in Dec.
Orpen Wide (IRE) 50-1 (8-11) In rear, behind over 2f out, driven and kept on inside final furlong, never nearer, 12th of 19, 14l behind Felday (9-4) at York 7f hcp 0-85 (4) gd in Oct.
Prohibition (IRE) 7-1 (8-10) Held up, headway under pressure over 2f out, stayed on same pace final furlong, 4th of 8, 1 3/4l behind Snow Bay (9-3) at Southwell 7f hcp 0-85 (4) fbs.
Istiqdaam 4-1fav (9-3) Dwelt, held up in rear, headway over 1f out, soon chasing leaders and one pace, 3rd of 10, 1 1/4l behind Hereford Boy (8-10) at Kempton 1m hcp 0-75 (5) pol.
Hilbre Court (USA) 12-1 (9-5) Soon prominent, ridden and weakened over 2f out, last of 10, 16l behind Chosen Forever (8-10) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-75 (5) pol.
Elusive Fame (USA) 9-4fav (8-12) Prominent, short of room briefly over 5f out, ridden halfway, weakened over 1f out, 6th of 8, 7l behind Snow Bay (9-3) at Southwell 7f hcp 0-85 (4) fbs.
Transmission (IRE) 3-1 (9-5) Tracked leaders, led well over 1f out, clear final furlong, eased close home, won at Southwell 7f hcp 0-75 (5) fbs beating Whitbarrow (9-0) by 4 1/2l, 6 ran.
General Tufto 7-1 (8-9) Slowly into stride, in rear, effort 2f out, never near leaders, 4th of 8, 4 1/2l behind Camerooney (7-13) at Southwell 1m hacp 0-70 (5) fbs.
Hit The Switch 3-1 (8-2) Held up, ridden and outpaced 3f out, headway under pressure over 2f out, led and edged left over 1f out, stayed on well final furlong, won at Southwell 1m hacp 0-70 (5) fbs beating Borasco (8-12) by 1 3/4l, 7 ran.