John Balding's Not My Choice has been running consistently well and should be thereabouts again but he is likely to have to settle for minor honours once more with a better bet looking to be PUNCHING, who can give weight away all round with the main danger rated as Novay Essjay. The David Nicholls-trained gelding has been running well this winter and is only 3lbs higher than when scoring over course and distance in January so has to be considered receiving weight from all of his rivals. Rod Millman's Whitbarrow has the beating of Stonecrabstomorrow on running here last month but both are likely to have to settle for a place at best with a bigger threat seemingly coming from Irish Music. Paul Jarvis' gelding ran encouragingly on his debut here last month and he has slipped to a fair mark so could be of interest. Only A Game disappointed here last time but his earlier form is solid and he cannot be discounted but a better bet looks to be Punching, who gets the vote. Conor Dore's gelding is 1lb lower since his latest effort when narrowly beaten by Onceaponatime over course and distance last week and he looks worth siding with despite having to give weight away to all of his opponents.
Punching 15-8fav (9-4) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd 2f out, ridden to lead inside final furlong, stayed on, won at Southwell 6f hcp 0-70 (5) std beating Spin Again (9-2) by 3/4l, 8 ran.
Whitbarrow (IRE) 11-8fav (9-0) In touch, ridden over 3f out, one pace, 4th of 7, 7l behind Castle Myth (8-4) at Southwell 6f clm stks (6) fbs in Feb.
Irish Music (IRE) 5-1 (9-13) Led, headed over 3f out, chased leading pair, ridden halfway, kept on same pace, 3rd of 11, 3l behind Fair Passion (8-8) at Southwell 5f mdn auc stks (6) fbs in Feb.
Not My Choice (IRE) 11-4fav (9-0) Led, ridden inside final furlong, headed close home, 2nd of 9, nk behind Titus Gent (9-6) at Wolverhampton 6f sell stks (6) pol.
Stonecrabstomorrow (IRE) 5-1 (8-8) Soon outpaced in rear, some headway over 1f out, never a factor, last of 5, 9l behind Spin Again (9-5) at Southwell 6f clm stks (6) fbs in Feb.
Only A Game (IRE) 6-1 (9-1) Went right start, chased leaders, ridden halfway, weakened final furlong, 8th of 11, 10l behind Gracie's Gift (9-0) at Southwell 6f hcp 0-60 (6) fbs.
Novay Essjay (IRE) 11-4fav (9-4) Chased leaders, hung right from well over 3f out, hard ridden to challenge over 1f out, never on terms, 3rd of 6, 6l behind Demonstrative (9-4) at Southwell 7f 3yo hcp 0-70 (5) fbs in Feb.