14:00 - COURTSIDE (12) is the type that David O'Meara does really well with and the former David Simcock-trained runner has always shaped like a big field handicap like this would suit him well. He still has relatively few miles on the clock and should go very close. Capriolette looked a progressive filly before not getting the rub of the green at Kempton last time, while Saluti is another who has changed yards that makes appeal. Richard Fahey has a good record in the race, so his pair are both considered.
14:35 - CONAGLEN (3) showed plenty on debut at Newcastle last month and was only just touched off having been slowly away/green early on. He may be more race-fit than some of his rivals who are returning from a break or making their debuts, and may be able to capitalise as a result. Country is an interesting debutant for a top yard, while Fox Champion should be involved in the finish if repeating his juvenile form, but preference for a second selection is for COOL EXHIBIT (1) who sets a decent standard on his impressive Nottingham win last May. He was a bit keen and immature there, so - given his trainer's good record when fitting headgear - it's no negative that he sports a visor this afternoon, and a big run is expected on this return to action.
15:10 - With several important non-runners this morning, HOW FAR (7) looks the one to focus on in what is still a competitive big-field contest for the track. He won a minor event at Windsor, and handicaps at Nottingham and handicap at Lingfield (value for extra, by 1½ lengths from Akbar Shah) in 2018, and shaped encouragingly when two lengths fifth to Desert Doctor at Chelmsford last time. The well-handicapped UPSTAGING (19) has potential to get back on the right track now encountering decent ground on his first start for Noel Wilson and is included as a second selection as a result.
15:45 - The unexposed four-year-old's WILLIE JOHN's (7) first venture into Group company in France last September was underwhelming, but everything he'd done prior to that marked him down as a really exciting prospect and there's a strong suspicion that his trainer's patience will pay dividends this year. He gets the nod to improve past both Crowned Eagle and Red Verdon, who are both well-established as smart types, but have less scope for improvement and the latter hasn't won on turf for nearly three years.
16:20 - This is wide open, but there should be a strong pace and that should suit HULCOTE (7). There should be more to come from Clive Cox's filly on the back of her handicap debut success at the end of August and she gets a tentative nod. The unexposed four-year-old Shareef Star is an interesting opponent now handicapping for his top yard, particularly if the betting speaks for him. Bacacarat and Indomeneo are others with claims.
16:55 - MISTER CHIANG (5) got off the mark last time despite seeming not ideally suited by the drop in trip, so there's possibly room to manoeuvre from a mark of 79 and he's more likely than most to be tuned up, so he gets the marginal vote in what looks a highly competitive affair. Good Birthday and Sameem, both winners when last seen, make some appeal of the remainder, but a second vote goes to GUILDHALL (7). He disappointed when 3½ lengths fourth of 9 to Elysian Flame in a minor event at Haydock on his final start, going in snatches, but has subsequently been gelded. He remains open to improvement now handicapping from what looks a fair mark, with this longer trip likely to be within range on breeding (dam won over the distance and sire won over 9f).
17:30 - CRISTAL SPIRIT ended last season with a career-best effort for William Haggas, calling on all his stamina to edge out another improver over 12f at Kempton in October (the pair 6 lengths clear of the third). 6 lb higher starting out for new connections, he is fancied to make a bold bid to follow-up.