Sommersturm needs a market check but we're inclined to put our faith in Mr Walker again with BLACKSTONE VEGAS getting the vote ahead of Kristopher James, whilst Bright Sparky and Lisbon Lion are others with claims. The importance of a reliable jockey cannot be underscored enough in this type of contest and the talented Simon Walker is operating at a 20% strike-rate over the past five years on the all weather. Add that to the fact his mount has been second on each of his last two outings, both over course and distance, and the case for Blackstone Vegas is strong. As with division one Barney Curley's runner needs a market check; Sommersturm is at least two stones well in on his German form and clearly has races in him and the market will tell us whether today is the day to get on. Mark Brisbourne took this last year (then just one division) and Kristopher James can't be ruled out off a fair mark, but it has to be said he's got to prove his stamina and we're concerned he'll be found wanting late on. Bright Sparky ran poorly over fences last time but on his previous win here he's not out of this race especially as Ollie Greenall is another jockey to keep on the right side in these whilst Lisbon Lion is capable of taking races off this rating but was well beaten last time and needs to bounce back in a race taken to go to Blackstone Vegas.
Sommersturm (GER) 25-1 (9-10) Raced keenly, tracked leader until over 4f out, weakened over 3f out, 12th of 13, 32l behind Crimson Mitre (10-0) at Southwell 1m 4f hcp (0-65) (6) fbs in Jul.
Kristopher James (IRE) 8-1 (8-11) Led 1f, remained with leader, led again over 4f out, cleared over 3f out, driven and all out inside final furlong, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp (6) pol in Oct beating Marjury Daw (8-11) by hd, 13 ran.
Lisbon Lion (IRE) 9-2 (8-8) Held up towards rear, headway on outer over 3f out, led over 2f out, headed inside final furlong, soon weakened, 5th of 9, 8l behind Ghufa (8-13) at Wolverhampton 1m 4f app hcp 0-65 (6) pol in Apr.
Wee Ziggy 33-1 (9-1) Took keen hold, raced wide, held up in mid-division, ridden 4f out, soon weakened, tailed off, last of 12, well behind Nayessence (8-9) at Wolverhampton 1m 4f hcp 0-60 (6) pol in Apr.
Blackstone Vegas 9-1 (8-11) Led until over 9f out, chased leader, led again well over 2f out, headed 2f out, no chance with very easy winner, 2nd of 9, 9l behind Sworn Tigress (9-2) at Wolverhampton 1m 4f hcp 0-50 (7) pol in Mar.
Wabbraan (USA) 66-1 (8-4) Tracked leader until 8f out, stayed in 3rd until weakened over 1f out, 7th of 12, 4l behind Lytham (8-10) at Kempton 1m 3f hacp 0-70 (5) pol in Apr.
Bright Sparky (GER) 9-4fav (10-8) In touch, steady headway 6f out, chased leaders 4f out, led over 2f out, ridden over 1f out, stayed on, won at Wolverhampton 1m 4f Amateur Handicap (0-52) (4yo+) (6) pol in Feb beating Amical Risks (10-11) by 3/4l, 11 ran.
Key To Love (IRE) 33-1 (8-13) Always in rear, ridden over 2f out, no impression, 8th of 10, 6l behind Malapropism (8-12) at Lingfield 6f app hcp 0-55 (6) pol in Oct.
Schinken Otto (IRE) 16-1 (10-2) Towards rear, ran wide straight, never a factor, 11th of 12, 10l behind Flighty Fellow (10-3) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f am hcp 0-60 (6) pol in Feb.
Naledi 14-1 (8-4) In touch, ridden and outpaced over 2f out, no impression final furlong, 9th of 12, 11l behind Carr Hall (8-12) at Chepstow 1m 4f hcp 0-65 (6) gd.
Prickles 40-1 (8-10) Held up behind, ridden and effort to chase leaders over 2f out, weakened 1f out, 6th of 9, 10l behind Any Given Moment (8-12) at Chepstow 2m hcp 0-60 (6) gd.
Barbirolli 14-1 (8-9) Raced in last place, ridden and headway to chase leaders over 3f out, driven and stayed on to 3rd inside final furlong, not pace to challenged, 3rd of 13, 4 1/2l behind Galiotto (9-0) at Brighton 1m 4f hcp 0-60 (6) gf in Apr.