This is a quality handicap and there are few that can be confidently opposed, but our idea of the winner is SHIFTING STAR who can get the better of Fathsta and Vhujon. Walter Swinburn's gelding is back down to the same mark which saw him land a hotly-contested Ascot handicap last summer. Winless on artificial surfaces, it may just be that the five-year-old is better on the turf but we're willing to give him another chance today. He was held behind the re-opposing Earlsmedic back in November but with a stone turnaround in the weights he can be confidently backed to reverse that form, and we fancy he can lead them all home from likely favourite Fathsta. Eddie Ahern's mount scored tidily at Kempton on his penultimate start before struggling off this mark over a furlong further last time. However, he's arguably better at six furlongs so back at that trip today he should go close granted a strong pace and luck-in-running. Vhujon has a string of seconds to his name of late, so whilst the David Evans runner might not be the most appealing win proposition he could still run into a place once more over what is his preferred trip. Earlsmedic represents an in-form yard but he looks to have work to on to confirm previous running with our selection at these revised weights, so a bigger threat might be Orpenindeed. Marco Botti's charge won over this course and distance on his penultimate start and wouldn't have been suited by stepping down a furlong last time, so merits respect of a mark of 89 as does My Gacho, although Mark Johnston's horse is surely better over further. Orpsie Boy has an absence to overcome but, whilst he looks feasibly treated, Tourist makes slightly more appeal back at the scene of his last success. Flowing Cape has won here and off this mark too but that was back in February of last year and so with Smokey Ryder looks the easiest to oppose in a competitive race, with Shifting Star our choice to land it.
Shifting Star (IRE) 5-1 (9-4) Held up in rear, headway 2f out, kept on inside final furlong, went 3rd last stride, 3rd of 9, 2 1/2l behind Earlsmedic (8-2) at Kempton 6f hcp 0-95 (3) pol in Nov.
Earlsmedic 10-3fav (8-1) Held up in touch, one pace inisde final furlong, 5th of 10, 1 1/2l behind Imprimis Tagula (8-3) at Wolverhampton 6f hcp 0-100 (2) pol in Dec.
Smokey Ryder 50-1 (8-10) Close up, ridden and weakened 2f out, last of 10, 15l behind Imprimis Tagula (8-3) at Wolverhampton 6f hcp 0-100 (2) pol in Dec.
Flowing Cape (IRE) 16-1 (8-8) Held up mid-division, not clear run over 1f out, soon beaten, 11th of 13, 7l behind Elna Bright (8-8) at Lingfield 7f hcp 0-100 (2) pol.
My Gacho (IRE) 14-1 (8-8) Soon pushed along in rear, never a factor, 7th of 9, 23l behind Imprimis Tagula (7-11) at Southwell 7f hcp 0-100 (2) fbs in Dec.
Orpenindeed (IRE) 7-1 (8-9) Chased leaders, ridden 2f out, kept on, not pace to challenge, 4th of 12, 2 1/4l behind Gilt Edge Girl (8-8) at Wolverhampton 5f hcp 0-95 (3) pol in Nov.
Fathsta (IRE) 15-2 (8-3) Held up mid-division, headway over 1f out, stayed on well, never able to challenge, 5th of 13, 1 3/4l behind Elna Bright (8-8) at Lingfield 7f hcp 0-100 (2) pol.
Orpsie Boy (IRE) 9-2 (9-3) Held up in touch, headway on stand rail from 2f out, led just inside final furlong, soon ridden and edged left, headed and weakened final 100 yards, 3rd of 9, 1/2l behind Methaaly (8-8) at Warwick 6f hcp 0-85 (4) gf in Oct.
Tourist 7-1 (8-9) Slowly into stride and not much room soon after start, in rear, headway and switched left over 1f out, not trouble leaders, 4th of 8, 2 1/2l behind Fitz Flyer (9-4) at Southwell 5f hcp 0-95 (3) fbs in Dec.
Vhujon (IRE) 13-2 (8-12) Pulled hard, held up in rear, headway on outside over 1f out, ran on into 2nd near finish, never any chance with comfortable winner, 2nd of 7, 2l behind Tiddliwinks (9-5) at Kempton 6f hcp 0-85 (4) pol.