Treat Em Mean can make a winning debut at the expense of some useful bumper performers, including Crocodiles Rock, Seven Is My Number, Mutual Respect and Earth Planet. No less than seven of the 10 runners here can boast winning form, with Crocodiles Rock probably holding the best form, having bolted up over the course-and-distance in December. A real chaser in the making, he has obvious claims under Tony McCoy who will give him the strong handling that he needs. However, Carl Llewellyn is turning into a man to fear in this sphere, holding a near 50% strike-rate, and when he decides to ride them himself, the hint should be taken. With that in mind we shall plump for Treat Em Mean to make a winning start. Bred by Sally Hall and related to the likes of Byron Lamb and Lord Lamb, he could be one to follow when sent over jumps, but you can bet that he has been well galloped in a bid to put one over the many winners on view here. Seven Is My Number foiled Earth Planet's follow-up bid when scoring on his Ascot bow, but was in receipt of 4lb and now reopposes off level weights, so in truth there should not be much between the pair. The other Nicholls runner Mutual Respect only had one serious rival to beat at Chepstow in December and has more on his plate now, while Appleday, Greenbridge and Just A Thought are all going the right way. Bill Musson has a rare runner under this code in Definite Edge to complete a decent line up that should ensure that nobody flees to the car-park before the end. The pin comes down on Treat Em Mean.
Appleaday (IRE) 16-1 (10-11) Always prominent, led over 2f out, ran on well, won at Ludlow 2m nhf (4) gs in Dec beating Blue Teal (11-4) by 6l, 14 ran.
Crocodiles Rock (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Tracked leader, led over 6f out, quickened clear final 2f, easily, won at Newbury 2m nhf (4) sft in Dec beating Mendo (11-8) by 8l, 22 ran.
Earth Planet (IRE) 5-1 (11-8) Mid-division, tracked leaders halfway, challenged over 3f out, kept on, always held by winner final 2f, 2nd of 11, 3 1/2l behind Seven Is My Number (11-4) at Ascot 2m nhf (1) gs in Dec.
Freddie The Third (IRE) 5-1 (10-7) Made all, ran on well final furlong, won at Warwick 2m nhf (6) hvy in Jan beating Spud (10-12) by 6l, 19 ran.
Greenbridge (IRE) 1-2fav (11-5) Tracked leaders, led over 1f out, drifted left inside final furlong, ran on, won at Taunton 2m 1f nhf (6) sft in Jan beating Merlin's Magic (11-5) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.
Mutual Respect (IRE) 8-15fav (11-0) Held up, steady headway 7f out, led over 2f out, ridden out, won at Chepstow 2m nhf (6) sft in Dec beating The Jazz Musician (11-0) by 2l, 11 ran.
Seven Is My Number (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Always going well, tracked leader, led over 4f out, in command final 2f, ridden out, won at Ascot 2m nhf (1) gs in Dec beating Earth Planet (11-8) by 3 1/2l, 11 ran.
Definite Edge (IRE) Definite Article gelding, half-brother to Exceptional Paddy, a winner at 6f-7f & 1m2f-1m3f winner Awatuki.
Treat Em Mean Keen gelding out of a moderate racemare.
Just A Thought (IRE) 25-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway from 3f out, stayed on well to lead final 50 yards, caught close home, 2nd of 17, 3/4l behind Procas de Thaix (10-12) at Newbury 1m 4f 4yo nhf (5) hvy in Jan.