Plenty of potential improvers as one would imagine in a three-year-old handicap but the nomination goes to the progressive CLASSIC VINTAGE at the main expense of Jedi, Rafaan and Aqwaal. Having cost a whopping $350,000, the selection was always going to have plenty of interest in him from an early stage. Starting at 33/1 for his racecourse bow at this track, it was evident that he was going to need time so it probably came as a surprise to a few when he won at 20/1 on his next start in September over a mile here. He followed up with a game Bath win and judging from his pedigree (dam a prolific winner at 10f and sire a Group Two winner over a mile) he looks sure to improve further now stepped up in trip. Sheikh Hamdam Al Maktoum holds a strong hand with Rafaan and Aqwaal, and whilst it is certainly not the be-all-and-end-all, it is interesting that Richard Hills prefers Rafaan. Mark Johnston's son of Gulch makes his handicap debut off a mark of 86 today and the market will help guide as to whether connections feel that is lenient. Perfect Shot was well-fancied when last seen but like many is bred to make up into a better three-year-old, whilst Antinori ran well on his comeback at Kempton and along with Khan Tengri and Northern Tour he has the advantage on some of being match-fit. Jedi is an obvious contender; he represents powerful connections, shapes as if this longer trip will suit (not entirely assured on pedigree although he is a half-brother to the strong stayer Hi Calypso) and he will not mind if there is any further rain. The market will help provide some further clues as to whether the force is with him but without that information we will stick with Classic Vintage.
Doctor Crane (USA) 9-1 (9-0) Held up in touch, raced wide and lost place over 2f out, last of 6, 8l behind Shampagne (9-0) at Great Leighs 1m 2yo stks (2) pol in Sep.
Rafaan (USA) 7-4 (8-7) Made all, ridden 2f out, stayed on well final furlong, won at Newcastle 1m 2f mdn stks (5) gf beating Ruler Of All (8-8) by 3l, 8 ran.
Classic Vintage (USA) 3-1 (9-5) Held up, ridden and headway over 2f out, ran on to lead just inside final furlong, readily, won at Bath 1m 2yo nov stk (5) gs in Oct beating Wilbury Star (9-2) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.
Jedi 10-3 (9-0) In touch, chased leaders over 2f out, stayed on to lead inside final furlong, won at Nottingham 1m 2yo mdn (4) hvy in Oct beating Dome Rocket (9-0) by nk, 15 ran.
Antinori (IRE) 4-1 (9-3) Held up in touch, going well when not clear run and switched left 2f out, chased winner over 1f out, every chance when hung left and right well inside final furlong, held near finish, 2nd of 9, nk behind Set The Trend (9-4) at Kempton 1m hcp 0-80 (4) std.
Khan Tengri (IRE) 9-2 (8-7) In touch, pushed along 3f out, driven and not run on final 2f, 6th of 13, 19l behind It's Dubai Dolly (8-2) at Kempton 1m 4f mdn stks (5) pol.
Northern Tour 40-1 (8-9) Mid-division, effort under pressure over 1f out, not reached leaders, one pace, 5th of 10, 6l behind Saint Arch (9-4) at Kempton 1m 3yo hcp 0-90 (3) pol in Mar.
Perfect Shot (IRE) 2-1fav (9-3) With leaders, led 3f out, ridden and headed over 1f out, no extra towards finish, 3rd of 14, 2 3/4l behind Madamlily (8-12) at Pontefract 1m 2f 2yo mdn (4) gd in Oct.
Aqwaal (IRE) 13-2 (9-3) Took keen hold, held up, ridden 3f out, likely outpaced, good headway over 1f out, ran on strongly to lead well inside final furlong, all out held on, won at Goodwood 1m 2yo mdn (4) sft in Sep beating Silver Print (9-3) by shd, 8 ran.
Polly's Mark (IRE) 9-1 (9-0) Tracked leader after 1f, ridden to join leader over 2f out, unable to quicken inside final furlong, 3rd of 13, 1 1/2l behind Three Moons (9-0) at Folkestone 1m 2f 3yo fll mdn (5) gf.
Howard 8-1 (9-0) Held up behind leaders, effort over 2f, soon beaten, 7th of 9, 13l behind Imposing (9-0) at Haydock 1m 2yo mdn (5) gf in Sep.