It's by no means impossible but a single-figure draw makes it that much harder to win this race so we'll concentrate on those drawn high and put forward Merlin's Dancer, Fathom Five and Hogmaneigh. Merlin's Dancer hasn't won since leaving Dandy Nicholls and was well held in this race last year. However, he did manage to finish fifth in the Stewards' Cup to show that he still has what it takes to go close in these races and the handicapper has given him a real chance. He was drawn low last year and may have used up too much energy in breaking quickly and coming across to the stand side but he's drawn high this year and can make a bold bid from the front at an each-way price. Hogmaneigh's hold-up style means that he needs all the luck that's going but the yard is coming into form, he has his ground and is only 1lb higher than when winning last year; he's short-list material. Fathom Five is relatively unexposed and may still be improving, he'll have benefited from his pipe-opener and looks booked for a big run but will need to make the expected improvement to win from his current mark. The speedy Morinqua is tailor made for this test but has the worse of the draw although the revitalised Hollbeck Ghyll is on the periphery of the acceptable boxes and could feature. Bond City is drawn one higher and is 9lbs lower than when a beaten favourite in the race last year so has to enter calculations whilst anything that Dandy Nicholls runs has to be respected. This will be fast and furious and luck will play a hand but MERLIN'S DANCER has the speed to keep clear of the trouble and should give us a big run at a big price.
Evens And Odds (IRE) 66-1 (9-4) Prominent, led over 2f out, headed over 1f out, no extra, 8th of 20, 5l behind Zidane (9-4) at Newmarket 6f lst stk (1) gd in Apr.
Hogmaneigh (IRE) 25-1 (9-4) Raced far side towards rear, ridden 2f out, ran on final furlong, not reach leaders, 6th of 25, 2l behind Off The Record (8-12) at Newmarket 6f hcap (2) gd in May.
Masta Plasta (IRE) 16-1 (8-11) Led centre, edged left and led overall over 1f out, ridden and held on well final furlong, won at York 5f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in May beating Everymanforhimself (8-9) by 1l, 18 ran.
Fathom Five (IRE) 4-1 (8-12) Tracked leaders, ridden over 1f out, one pace, 3rd of 8, 8l behind Borderlescott (8-12) at Musselburgh 5f stk (2) gs in May.
Tournedos (IRE) 33-1 (9-3) Held up towards rear, ridden 2f out, headway approaching final furlong, kept on to lead last 75 yards, won at York 5f hcp 0-100 (2) gf in May beating River Falcon (9-1) by 1/2l, 11 ran.
Canadian Danehill (IRE) 14-1 (9-3) With leaders, driven 2f out, no impression when edged right over 1f out, 5th of 9, 10l behind Manzila (9-3) at Thirsk 5f hcp 0-100 (2) gd in May.
Morinqua (IRE) 8-1 (9-7) Led, ridden and headed over 1f out, weakened quickly, last of 13, 18l behind Cartimandua (9-7) at Nottingham 6f lst fll stk (1) gd in May.
Northern Empire (IRE) 9-1 (9-1) Chased leaders, ridden well over 1f out, kept on inside final furlong, 4th of 11, 3/4l behind Tournedos (9-3) at York 5f hcp 0-100 (2) gf in May.
Bond City (IRE) 13-2 (8-11) Tracked leaders, ridden inside final furlong, soon beaten, 7th of 8, 4l behind Fyodor (8-11) at Haydock 5f hcap (2) gf in May.
Strike Up The Band 14-1 (9-2) Led, ridden, headed over 1f out, no impression, 8th of 11, 2l behind Tournedos (9-3) at York 5f hcp 0-100 (2) gf in May.
Safari Mischief 15-8fav (8-3) Chased leaders, ridden approaching final furlong, soon led, unable to quicken and headed inside final furlong, 2nd of 7, nk behind Elhamri (8-5) at Goodwood 5f hcap (2) gf in May.
How's She Cuttin' (IRE) 25-1 (8-7) Behind centre, ridden over 1f out, kept on same pace, never nearer, 10th of 18, 5l behind Masta Plasta (8-11) at York 5f hcp 0-105 (2) gd in May.
Holbeck Ghyll (IRE) 12-1 (8-4) Led, quickened 2f out, clear 1f out, ridden and headed final strides, 2nd of 12, nk behind Baby Strange (8-6) at Newbury 6f hcp 0-100 (2) gd in May.
Merlin's Dancer 8-1 (9-0) Disputed lead, led 2f out, ridden over 1f out, no extra when headed inside final furlong, 3rd of 8, 1 1/2l behind Zowington (8-13) at Lingfield 5f hcp 0-85 (4) gf in May.
Bigalos Bandit 28-1 (8-8) Prominent, ridden over 1f out, weakened final furlong, last of 10, 18l behind Northern Fling (9-4) at Doncaster 5f hcp 0-100 (2) sft in Apr.
Diane's Choice 9-1 (9-1) Close up, ridden halfway, weakened 1f out, last of 8, 11l behind Almaty Express (9-0) at Great Leighs 5f hcap (4) pol in May.
Hereford Boy 6-1 (9-9) Soon well outpaced in rear, 9th of 10, 22l behind Barons Spy (9-3) at Bath 6f hcap (4) sft.
Magic Glade 33-1 (8-4) Close up, ridden 2f out, weakened entering final furlong, 7th of 10, 3 1/2l behind Ebraam (8-8) at Lingfield 5f hcp 0-100 (2) pol in Feb.
Ocean Blaze 7-2jt-fav (8-13) Led, ridden over 1f out, headed inside final furlong, kept on, 3rd of 10, hd behind Inter Vision (9-10) at Redcar 5f hcp 0-70 (4) gf in May.
Steelcut 5-1 (9-8) Chased leaders, ridden well over 1f out, led towards finish, won at Hamilton 5f hcp (5) gf in May beating Rothesay Dancer (8-8) by a shd, 12 ran.