Alhella justified favouritism when making all at Redcar on her most recent start. That was her first run since last September and she should know much more this time around. Shane Gray has been booked for his invaluable three pound claim and whilst this is a first foray into handicaps, Kevin Ryan knows a useful sprinter when he sees one. Good to firm ground clearly suits this daughter of Kyllachy and she should make another bold bid.
Bright Flash is another who only made her seasonal reappearance on her latest start just nine days ago. David Brown clearly feels she is none the worse for that effort and the decision to run her has to be respected. The fact that she is a previous course and distance winner should stand her in good stead and she should provide the stiffest opposition. Three Gracez has been a model of consistency so far this year. She was unfortunate not to make it a hat trick of wins at Leicester last time and she will be there to pick up the pieces if her two lesser exposed rivals fail to fire.
Now at peak fitness, Alhella should appreciate this extra furlong and with any amount of improvement to come, she has to rank high on any shortlist.
Over The Air was only beaten three lengths on her last outing following a six month break. That trip was a bit on the short side for her, so a return to three miles looks ideal this afternoon. Nico De Boinville is the only jockey to have ridden her to victory and that came over this course and distance last October. The jockey has partnered her in seven previous outings and should know exactly what he has beneath him. John Spearing only has a small amount of runners these days but it should be noted that he has enjoyed four winners in as many weeks and Over The Air commands utmost respect.
New Horizons is still only relatively lightly raced but has been purchased out of Nicky Henderson’s stable by Caroline Fryer. He was far from being one of the leading lights at Seven Barrows, so this change of scenery could see him improve a little. He has only tried this trip once before where he finished in the midfield at Cheltenham. If adapting to it he ought to be right in the thick of the action. The likeable Billy Congo seems to have had plenty of racing already this season. He stays a lot further than this but will need to improve his jumping if he is to get involved this time around. A tendency to jump left last time out saw him struggle and he plugged on at just the one pace.
Over The Air seems likely to leave that first run of the season well and truly behind and much better can be today.
Over The Air (WIN)
Royal Etiquette loves this track and two of his three career successes have come over this course and distance. He arrives here on the back of two fair efforts hurdles at Fakenham and Huntingdon but his trainer may well have had this race in mind for him as he is now back down to a winning mark on the flat. Lawney Hill has engaged the services of Patrick Pilley and the experienced apprentice has been riding winners for the likes of Mick Channon, Denise Sanderson and James Tuite in recent weeks. The selection has won at a higher level than this in the past so he has to be of obvious interest here.
Scarlet Sash has finished in the money in her last two starts. This is a significant step up in trip for the filly and Henry Candy will be hoping that it can tease out further improvement from her. She is still only a four year old and Edward Greatrex takes a useful three pounds off her back. She is dropped in grade by connections and that too could see her cause the selection the most problems. Russian Remarque has improved on each start so far this year for Jonny Portman. A repeat of his latest effort at Goodwood would see him go very close here. Ned Curtis takes over in the saddle and they too warrant consideration.
Royal Etiquette should be fit enough to do himself justice in this lowly graded affair. He knows every blade of grass on the track and appeals at each way prices.
RoYal Etiquette (E/W)