Ashleys Lad is heading the right way, Pearlysteps ran the best race of his career last time but it may be worth taking the chance that THAT'S THE DEAL can step up on the form of his debut. The breeding of Henrietta Knight's charge suggests that testing ground will hold no fears for him although that has yet to be backed up by his performances on the racecourse. He was well held on his Rules debut at Newbury but that was by no means a bad introductory performance and he could be worth chancing although the yard could be in better form. Nick Gifford won this race last year and has a leading candidate in Ashleys Lad who was well held on his first encounter with soft ground at Kempton but the two that pulled clear of him are useful performers so it may not have been too bad a performance. The form of his hurdling bow at Lingfield is rock solid form and he's entitled to go close. Pearlysteps has been allotted the same official mark as Ashleys Lad following his good second at Leicester which rates as his best performance to date. He has plenty of stamina, will handle the conditions and represents a yard that has an excellent record here. The principals do set a decent standard but there are some interesting runners amongst those with more to prove; they include Danmegella and Raphiel although we're going to take them all on with That's The Deal.
Ashleys Lad (IRE) 11-1 (11-2) Held up well in rear, stayed on after 3 out, went 3rd after 2 out, never near front pair, 3rd of 12, 24l behind The Minack (11-8) at Kempton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (3) sft in Jan.
Chestnut Ben (IRE) 100-1 (11-4) Hit 3rd, always in rear, tailed off 4 out, 14th of 15, well behind Master Of The Hall (11-11) at Newbury 2m nov hdl (4) sft in Jan.
Danmegella 20-1 (11-2) Raced wide, held up, headway to chase leaders halfway, led over 6f out, clear over 3f out, headed over 2f out, weakened quickly, 5th of 14, 20l behind Sherwani Wolf (10-13) at Plumpton 2m 2f nhf (6) sft in Dec '08.
It's Brown (IRE) 7-2fav (10-13) Held up, struggling from over 4f out, 8th of 10, 31l behind Witherspoon (10-13) at Ayr 2m NH flat (6) sft in Mar.
Mykingdomforakiss 200-1 (10-11) Always behind, hit 4th, tailed off, 9th of 13, well behind Finian's Rainbow (11-0) at Newbury 2m nh nov hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Pearlysteps 3-1fav (10-9) Pressed leader until after 5th, soon ridden, stayed on flat, not troubled winner, 2nd of 15, 1 3/4l behind Dr Livingstone (10-12) at Leicester 2m nh nov hdl (3) gf in Dec.
Raphiell (IRE) 66-1 (11-5) In touch, lost place 5th, last and pushed along 7th, tailed off, 9th of 10, well behind Little George (11-5) at Leicester 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
That's The Deal (IRE) 28-1 (10-12) Held up in rear, moderate headway approaching 2 out, never dangerous, 8th of 15, 43l behind Duke Of Lucca (11-5) at Newbury 2m 3f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) hvy in Dec.
Entertain Me 200-1 (10-7) Prominent to 4th, soon dropped to rear and soon pulled up, in a race won by Quivvy Bridge (11-3) at Stratford 2m 3f mrs nov hdl (4) gf in Aug, 14 ran.