This is tricky with doubts about fitness and trip for some, so a chance is taken on SPLINTER CELL ahead of Philatelist and Balcarce Nov. Our selection has a little to find with a few of these but arrives here in good heart, having landed a competitive handicap at the track back in December when denying the in-form Mr Willis. With fitness assured and no concerns about the trip, we'll chance Marco Botti's inmate to expose any flaws in the opposition. It will be no easy task though; Philatelist is a classy performer on artificial surfaces, and is only opposed on the grounds he's never run over this trip and surely needs further to be seen at his best. Even so the Jarvis inmate is respected, along with Balcarce Nov who is clear best-in at the weights. The concern with this one is he's been off the track since October, and although the track should hold no terrors we'd need to see strong market support before shifting our view. Noble Citizen is another with whom our selection has something to find, but he's a worrying tendency to come second and all his wins have come at seven furlongs. As such, Reve De Nuit might be a bigger danger having comfortably landed a handicap at Southwell last time. The worry is he's got to give weight away and this is a very different surface and with Alsahil looking to have far too much on his plate here we'll return to Splinter Cell.
Reve De Nuit (USA) 8-1 (8-4) Tracked leaders, went 2nd over 3f out, ridden to lead well over 1f out, stayed on to go clear inside final furlong, won at Southwell 1m hcp 0-100 (2) fbs beating Nightjar (9-4) by 3 1/2l, 7 ran.
Alsahil (USA) 10-1 (8-13) Led until ridden and headed just over 1f out, weakened inside final furlong, 6th of 8, 5l behind Mustakmil (8-8) at Kempton 1m hcp 0-85 (4) pol in Dec.
Balcarce Nov (ARG) 16-1 (9-3) Mid-division, ridden 3f out, not troubled leaders, 8th of 12, 9l behind Steele Tango (9-3) at Newmarket 1m 1f Grp 3 (1) gd in Oct.
Noble Citizen (USA) 28-1 (8-9) Prominent, ridden over 2f out, weakened final furlong, 22nd of 28, 9l behind Advanced (8-12) at Ascot 7f hcp (2) gd in Sep.
Philatelist (USA) (8-12) 98th of 18, 9l behind Sky Crusader (8-12) at Deauville(FR) 1m 1f 3yo Listed stks in Dec.
Splinter Cell (USA) 12-1 (8-7) Held up towards rear, headway well over 2f out, ridden to challenge and hung left over 1f out, led 1f out, driven clear, won at Wolverhampton 1m 1f hcp 0-100 (2) pol in Dec beating Mr Willis (8-10) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.