A wide-open affair but those at the top end of the handicap make most appeal. West End Lad is 6lb higher than his win on the turf in September but arrives in fine form having won a claimer by five lengths at Southwell last month, while Opus Maximus scored over C&D in December with Snow Dancer and Hidden Glory behind. However, runner-up CHOSEN FOREVER was only beaten a length and Geoff Harker's charge is taken to gain his revenge on better terms today. Archie Rice may be in the handicapper's grip now, but there could still be more to come from hat-trick heroine Maven and bottom weight Postcript as they step up in class.
West End Lad 6-4fav (9-7) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd over 3f out, led going well over 2f out, soon clear, easily, won at Southwell 1m 3f clm stks (6) fbs in Dec beating Hits Only Jude (8-2) by 5l, 9 ran.
Chosen Forever 15-2 (9-1) Pressed leader, led over 3f out, ridden over 1f out, kept on until headed and no extra towards finish, 2nd of 11, 1l behind Opus Maximus (9-0) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-85 (4) pol in Dec.
Mountain Cat (IRE) 20-1 (9-5) Tracked leaders, lost place over 2f out, soon weakened, 14th of 18, 21l behind Barren Brook (9-4) at York 1m 1f hcp 0-80 (4) gd in Jun.
Opus Maximus (IRE) 16-1 (8-7) Behind, headway over 1f out, ran on final furlong, never able to challenge, 5th of 13, 3 1/2l behind Emerald Wilderness (8-13) at Lingfield 1m 2f hcp 0-95 (3) pol.
Snow Dancer (IRE) 15-2 (9-4) Towards rear, outpaced 3f out, never on terms, 7th of 11, 4l behind Opus Maximus (9-0) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-85 (4) pol in Dec.
Hawaana (IRE) 10-1 (9-4) Held up in touch, headway on outside over 3f out, ridden 2f out, no impression sson after, 5th of 9, 6l behind Changing The Guard (9-2) at Nottingham 1m 2f hcp 0-85 (4) gf in Oct.
Hidden Glory 20-1 (9-4) Towards rear, outpaced 3f out, ridden over 1f out, never on terms, 8th of 11, 7l behind Opus Maximus (9-0) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-85 (4) pol in Dec.
Archie Rice (USA) 9-1 (8-13) Always behind, 11th of 13, 7l behind Thunderstruck (9-7) at Lingfield 1m 2f hcp 0-85 (4) pol.
Full Toss 6-1 (8-11) Tracked leader racing keenly, led before halfway, joined early straight, headed under pressure over 1f out, no extra inside final furlong, 4th of 10, 1 1/4l behind Elizabeth Coffee (8-6) at Dundalk 1m 4f hcp pol in Nov.
Maven 9-4fav (10-7) Made most, ridden 1f out, stayed on, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f am hcp 0-70 (5) pol in Dec beating John Potts (11-0) by 1l, 10 ran.
Knowe Head (NZ) 9-4fav (9-4) Mid-division, headway over 2f out, chased winner inside final furlong, never able to challenge, 2nd of 11, 2 1/4l behind Spes Nostra (9-3) at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-70 (5) pol in Dec.
The Mongoose 10-1 (9-5) Held up in rear, headway to chase leaders over 1f out, kept on same pace, 4th of 12, 3 1/2l behind Kiss A Prince (9-4) at Lingfield 1m 2f hacp 0-70 (5) pol.
Postscript (IRE) 9-4fav (9-6) Held up in mid-division, good headway between horses over 1f out, led and edged left inside final furlong, pushed along and in control when edged right towards finish, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-65 (6) pol beating Justcallmehandsome (9-2) by 1l, 12 ran.