On the evidence of his first start of the campaign, CLEAR SPRING (best price 6-1) shows no sign of decay despite his advancing years and he gains the vote to land this race for the third year in succession. Using the same race at Newmarket that he did before coming here twelve months ago, John Spearing’s charge ran a good deal better than his final finishing position suggested - leading a furlong out until just getting tired in the closing stages. Sure to be all the better for that initial outing, the Chineur gelding will appreciate the recent rain which has fallen and he should make his presence felt once again.
PILLAR (NAP) (best price 9-2) ran a remarkable race at the Curragh last weekend and providing he’s in a similar mood five days on, another positive display looks on the cards. Ado McGuiness’ inmate has been in terrific form during the spring period on the all-weather and he’s carried forward that good work on to the turf based on his last four starts. Although he’s failed to add to the win column following a victory at Navan four starts ago, the son of Rock Of Gibraltar has run really well in defeat and that effort at the Co Kildare venue on Sunday certainly suggests he isn’t finished just yet. Switched from his coffin box draw in stall one, the four-year found himself with only one behind at halfway, but in producing a terrific late burst, he managed to finish on the coat tails of the leading pack, going on really strong through the line. Conversely to his terrible draw which ultimately cost him dear last time, tonight he’s been handed the best seat in the house bang up the stands side rail and providing he doesn’t squander his very favourably position on the track, it’s hard to see him not having a huge say in the final argument.
FREE STONE HILL (best price 9-4) still seems well ahead of the handicapper based on his latest romp at Stratford and he remains one to keep on side until beaten. Slightly lucky to land his previous race at Exeter when his stable mate fell while clear at the last, Dan Skelton’s charge proved that victory at the West Country track was no fluke with a display of total authority at Stratford last time out. Always moving like the winner off the back of strong fractions, the Beneficial gelding scored with any amount in hand and even at this very early stage of the summer, he leaves the impression he might be up to landing a much bigger pot further down the line.
CONVERSELY (best price 7-1) did more than enough at Gowran on debut to suggest she can land an ordinary maiden and while she may well be up against several useful sorts here, she can more than hold her own. Slowly away at the Kilkenny venue, Henry De Bromhead’s inmate caught the eye with the way she picked up nicely from an uncompromising position turning for home, and in finishing a never-nearer sixth at the line, she offered plenty of encouragement for the future. Moreover, the race in question – a well-run one at that – has seen the likes of Bumbasina, Treaty Of Vienna and Mirror Man all boost the form since, so it would come as little surprise if she were capable of adding to the overall picture of that contest here.
The maiden won by Benbatl at Doncaster last month has worked out a treat and having caught the eye with his performance back in the field on debut, BOB MAXWELL (best price 11-1) looks an interesting contender here on his second start. Green and towards the rear early, it was pleasing to see how David Barrons’ inmate really engaged in the latter stages of the well-run affair on Town Moor and having plenty of size and scope to do really well in future, another solid effort here will further educate his mind for the battles ahead.