Blue Empyrean landed a double in Ireland with a last month’s success at Down Royal but is 12lb higher today. Lochnell bids for a hat-trick of course and distance wins off a 5lb higher mark but is upped in class and PROGRESS DRIVE is preferred. He scored off today’s mark here last year and Nicky Richards’ charge looks worth another try over 3m in this on the back of a recent second over these fences.
Progress Drive (IRE) 7-4 (11-8) Tracked leaders in 3rd place, pushed along 10th, chased winner before 4 out, kept on and always held, 2nd of 4, 3 1/4l behind Lough Derg Jewel (11-3) at Ayr 2m 4f hcp (3) hvy in Dec.
Blue Empyrean (IRE) 11-2 (11-11) Tracked leaders, headway into 2nd before 8th, ridden to challenge 2 out and soon led, under pressure and kept on well run-in, won at Down Royal 2m 4f hcp hvy in Jan beating Ardmillan (10-5) by 2 3/4l, 7 ran.
Lochnell (IRE) 11-2jfav (11-3) In rear, headway before 3 out, switched right before and led last, kept on well, won at Ayr 3m hcp (4) hvy in Jan beating Finaghy Ayr (10-10) by 1 1/4l, 10 ran.