All-Weather guru Simon Mapletoft previews 4:45 Lingfield Marathon
COUSIN KHEE: Stays well and generally consistent but hasn’t been able to get his head in front off marks in the 80s this winter so no realistic chance here.
HURRICANE HIGGINS: Came from last to win a muddling Fast Track Qualifier over C&D in February (Gold Trail second) on first start in two and a half years; entitled to sharpen up for that and clearly retains class that saw him Group placed on turf; not to be under-estimated.
JOHN REEL: Ex hurdler who has been a model of consistency on sand, giving useful Marzocco a fright in a Chelmsford qualifier latest; Up 4lb for that so among top rated runners but might have to settle for place money in hardest race so far.
KINGS BAYONET: Winner over hurdles so stamina no problem but only campaigned up to 1m4f on AW; moderate efforts in two runs here this winter and hard to see where the necessary improvement will come from.
LUV U WHATEVER: Regarded as a Fibresand specialist after taking his Southwell win tally to seven in January but has performed with credit at Wolverhampton last twice; likely to race prominently but questionable whether he will see it out.
UNCLE BERNIE: Comfortable winner of a modest handicap over extended 2m at Wolverhampton in November but struggled off higher marks since; out of his depth.
URAMAZIN: Stays this trip well but left toiling by Anglophile in a qualifier here in January and finished in the ruck in a muddling race behind Hurricane Higgins over C&D latest; may have been flattered by proximity that day but should give a good account.
ANGLOPHILE: Strong traveller who has built a sturdy reputation this winter, winning valuable 1m3f handicap at Kempton in December, a 1m4f handicap here and a Fast Track Qualifier over C&D by 4.5l; open to further progress so must be a leading player.
GOLD TRAIL: Thorough galloper who won over 1m2f and 1m4f here before being denied a four-timer by Hurricane Higgins on his first try at this trip latest; looks capable of better in a stronger run race but potentially vulnerable to a strong finisher.
MASTERPAVER: 1m6f winner who not surprisingly stayed on well to be second to Gold Trail over 1m4f here in January but hasn’t built on that; made no impact behind that rival and Hurricane Higgins in qualifier over C&D latest, though.
MYMATECHRIS: Progressive here in December, completing an AW hat-trick before giving Anglophile a fright in a 1m4f handicap; no excuses when flattening out over that trip in lesser race here last month and stamina far from assured.
HIDDEN GOLD: Another progressive Godolphin contender who is unbeaten in three starts on sand this winter, including a Listed race over 1m5f here and a 2m Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton; could be good enough but may lack potential of Anglophile as well as match sharpness after three-month break.
VERDICT: The way he won a Fast Track Qualifier over C&D in January suggests Godolphin’s progressive young stayer ANGLOPHILE will be a tough nut to crack. He not only stays well but also has the ability to quicken which will be an asset if this isn’t run at an even gallop. The filly Hidden Gold, who runs in the same ownership, commands respect as she is a Listed winner with proven stamina, but might not have the scope of my selection. Hurricane Higgins is entitled to have come on for his last-gasp win here five weeks ago and could confirm course form with the reliable John Reel.