A race little better than plating grade and ZAFFARELLA looks the percentage call ahead of Bouncing King and Glebehall Bay. Lucinda Russell's charge has won at this time of the year previously and perhaps more pertinently with a softer surface obtaining. She did not seem to act at Ascot last time out but won with authority at Hexham and could be capable of more. Bouncing King has been below par this season. On the positive, his stable won this race last year so it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for the horse to have been specifically aimed at this engagement. Glebehall Bay is less exposed than most. He has been beaten twice by large margins though this is his handicap debut off a mark of 97. Bret Maverick is tried in a visor having worn cheekpieces in a recent run on the flat. He had previously won in this headgear at Bangor. Pearl has been tried over three miles in the past. This trip is likely to better suit. Macchiato ran creditably on good ground at this track in May. She has won a plating contest at Hexham on a similar surface so she cannot be discounted despite a harsh 2lb rise from the handicapper for her last racecourse appearance. Warren Marston replaces a conditional on Thompson so the market has to be noted accordingly. Zaffarella is selected in the nightcap.
Zaffarella (IRE) 9-2 (10-6) Tracked leaders, slow 1st and 2nd, mistake 3rd, soon lost place, headway 3 out, never able to challenge, 5th of 11, 10l behind Easter Legend (11-12) at Ascot 2m 6f mares hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd in Nov.
Thompson 33-1 (10-7) Mid-division, weakened after 5th, 9th of 12, 28l behind Keki Buku (11-5) at Leicester 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Dec.
Bouncing King 20-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, led after 3rd, headed approaching 2 out, no impression, 3rd of 13, 18l behind Acknowledgement (10-0) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Mujamead 66-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway to chase leaders 9th, soon reminders, weakened from 12th, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Saafend Rocket (10-10) at Southwell 2m 5f hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Jun, 14 ran.
Crouch End Flyer 5-1fav (10-3) Held up, never dangerous, tailed off when pulled up before last, in a race won by Tarateeno (10-10) at Towcester 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Nov, 12 ran.
Glebehall Bay (IRE) 16-1 (10-7) In rear, jumped slow 4th, never dangerous, 6th of 10, 34l behind Peddlers Cross (10-12) at Bangor 2m 1f nov hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Bret Maverick (IRE) 25-1 (11-9) Tracked leader, hit 4th, ridden and lost 2nd before 2 out, weakened last, 5th of 13, 7l behind Simple Jim (11-12) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-100 (4) gf in Nov.
Pearl (IRE) 11-1 (9-9) Mid-division, lost place 6th, tailed off when pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Cross Kennon (11-7) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) hvy in Dec, 15 ran.
Macchiato 28-1 (10-5) Chased leaders, ridden to chase leading pair after 3 out, stayed on same pace flat, went 2nd last strides, 2nd of 14, 3 1/2l behind Festival Dreams (9-11) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in May.
Midnight Diamond (IRE) 28-1 (11-1) Chased leaders, ridden approaching 3 out, soon weakened, 7th of 13, 31l behind Acknowledgement (10-0) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Times Up Barney 9-1 (11-2) Held up, outpaced 5 out, tailed off when Pulled Up, in a race won by Blackergreen (11-1) at Carlisle 3m 1f nov hcp hdl 0-105 (4) hvy in Mar '06, 6 ran.