Early favourite, Starshiba, is in good form, but his finishing effort needs to be timed to perfection which is why, prior to the first of his two recent wins, he had won only once in 27 career starts. He likes this track and is to be respected, but he looks a bit short nonetheless.
Super Den looks likely to run very well and he is open to plenty more progress in this sphere after only four all-weather runs to date.
Prior to his win over a mile at Kempton in November, he hadn't raced on the all-weather for well over two years, which was a bit surprising considering his first run back in the sphere saw him beat eleven rivals comfortably in that 0-70 handicap.
- Next best bet: Super Den
Bidding to follow-up in a 0-72 over an extended mile on the Wolverhampton Tapeta last month, he looked unlucky when badly hampered approaching the final bend, losing his place in the process, but he finished off particularly well once switched to the wide outside and would no doubt have gone close with a kinder passage.
The best bet at the prices would appear to be Arctician, who gave the impression that he was approaching a winning level of form at this venue on New Year's Eve.
12:45 (Lingfield) Artician
That came in a seven-furlong handicap, and it looked significant that top jockey Tom Marquand was booked for the ride because he rarely rides for this yard these days (though he did ride plenty of winners for Simon Dow in the past).
In what was an 11-runner 0-75 contest, Arctician had the widest draw of all to overcome, so he had to be slotted in at the back of the field.
Seemingly on the verge of mounting a challenge in the home straight, his path became completely blocked, leaving nowhere to go. Nonetheless, he finished full of running, still closing at the line, and it did strike as being an eye-catching run which can be built upon today.
That recent run was the six-year-old's third since returning to Simon Dow, who trained him between November 2021 and July last year, when he was transferred to Jim Boyle, returning to Dow with a six-pound lower mark at the end of November.
When with Dow first time around, Arctician won on his stable debut at Wolverhampton, before producing a performance at Kempton that he hasn't bettered since.
That run, at the end of last March, saw him beaten only a couple of lengths in a far higher-graded Class 2 handicap over a mile, which he contested off a mark of 85.
Now contesting an upper-tier Class 5 over the same trip off a mark of just 69 (down a further 2lbs despite a promising display last time), he has to be of major interest from a handy inside stall.
Prior to his latest run, his only previous visit to this track saw him finish a never-nearer third of five in a stronger Class 4 handicap over seven furlongs, in which he ran off the top mark of 85.
A mile looks more suitable for him around this very sharp track and, having contested a whole series of much stronger all-weather handicaps than this one last year (off much higher marks), he looks poised for a major return to form.