EL GHAZWANI has a 7lb rise to contend with bidding for a hat-trick of course and distance wins but Hugo Palmer’s charge scored with the more to spare last time than the narrow winning margin would suggest and doubts surround today’s opposition. Greatest Journey won a decent handicap at Wolverhampton in 2018 but missed the whole of last year while Smile A Mile and the selection’s stablemate Ours Puissant have plenty to prove over this far with the latter returning from a lay-off. Mr Scaramanga was expected to do better in a lower grade here last time and Normal Norman is upped in class.
Greatest Journey 5-2fav (9-13) Chased leaders, took closer order over 2f out, every chance over 1f out, faded final furlong, 5th of 6, 4l behind Breden (9-6) at Chelmsford City 1m hcp (3) pol in Dec.
El Ghazwani (IRE) 9-4 (9-6) Slowly into stride, held up towards rear, headway last bend, went 2nd entering final furlong, quickened up well to lead towards finish, won at Lingfield 1m 2f hcp (3) pol in Jan beating Sky Defender (9-5) by 3/4l, 7 ran.
Ours Puissant (IRE) 12-1 (9-6) Chased leading pair, weakened and eased over 2f out, 9th of 10, 37 3/4l behind Masaru (9-7) at Sandown 1m hcp (2) gf in Apr.
Smile A Mile (IRE) 11-1 (9-7) Outpaced in rear, pushed along over 3f out, kept on final furlong, went 2nd post, no chance with winner, 2nd of 5, 3 1/4l behind Mosakhar (8-10) at Southwell 1m hcp (3) pol in Jan.
Mr Scaramanga 4-1 (9-8) Keen tracked leaders, ridden over 1f out, kept on same pace, lost 3rd final strides, 4th of 8, 3 1/4l behind Torochica (9-0) at Lingfield 1m 2f hcp (4) pol in Jan.
Normal Norman 3-1 (9-6) Soon tracking leader, ridden over 2f out, no impression in last from over 1f out, last of 4, 5 3/4l behind Lucky's Dream (9-7) at Chelmsford City 1m 2f hcp (4) pol in Feb.