All-Weather guru Simon Mapletoft previews 2:10 Lingfield Sprint Final
ALBEN STAR: Won this last year and placed in top handicaps on turf since; best effort on third qualifying run when second to Pretend in Listed Hever Stakes over inadequate 5f here; coming to boil at right time and will appreciate likely strong pace.
BASIL BERRY: Mile winner on turf last year but has adapted well to AW sprinting, finishing second in hot handicaps over 5f and 6f; no match for Pretend over longer trip at Wolverhampton latest but finished well without landing a blow; might out-run his price.
BOOM THE GROOM: Thrived on racing this winter, winning at Wolverhampton and Lingfield (twice); confirmed progress when third to Pretend and Alben Star in Listed Hever Stakes here latest and capable of another big run over a trip that suits.
BROTHER TIGER: Made all to win a 5f Lingfield handicap in February and followed up over C&D last week off a 3lb higher mark; up another 1b for that but will need to take his form to another level to be competitive in this grade.
CHOOKIE ROYALE: Top level 7f/1m AW performer who dropped back to this trip to win a Chelmsford conditions event before almost stealing a 7f Listed race at Wolverhampton last month; unplaced on last three starts on a track that appears sharper than ideal but likely to give it his best shot from the front.
FOXTROT ROMEO: Classy enough to be second in Irish 2,000 Guineas three years ago and retains plenty of ability as he showed when taking a Wolverhampton handicap in November; close fourth to Rivellino in Listed race over C&D when racing further back than winner gives him a chance with likely strong pace in his favour.
GLEN MOSS: Useful 7f handicapper on turf and clearly effective on synthetic surfaces as he proved when a head second to Rivellino in a C&D Listed race in February; another solid effort in that grade latest gives him place claims back at 6f.
INTRANSIGENT: Looked as good as ever when gunning down the trailblazer in a Listed Fast Track Qualifier over C&D in November but failed to sparkle in two runs this year, including behind Rivellino in February; excuses both times but something to prove now.
ORIENTAL RELATION: Regular AW winner who added three more victories to his tally this winter on Polytrack and Fibresand; never landed a blow in a 5f handicap at Chelmsford latest so likely to be found wanting in this grade.
PERFECT PASTURE: Prolific performer who has won seven of his last 11 starts; back on song in a 5f handicap at Southwell in January and beat leading contender Rivellino over C&D in January last year but never dangerous when only mid-division in a Kempton handicap last weekend.
PRETEND: Upwardly mobile gelding who has gone from strength to strength since switch to sprinting; best effort yet when showing a withering turn of foot to win Listed Hever Stakes on first try at 5f and the one to beat on that evidence now back to his optimum trip.
RIVELLINO: Talented but fragile gelding who returned from a setback to qualify for this with a win in the Listed Cleves Stakes over C&D in February; had several of these rivals behind so no surprise if he improved on last year’s third.
SHOWTIME STAR: Unable to make his mark in France this winter but back in the groove when taking a 6f Southwell handicap last month off a mark of 78; beaten in similar grade since and in a much bigger league now.
VERDICT: PRETEND (Nap) appears to be on the fast track to Group class after displaying blistering speed in the Listed Hever Stakes over the minimum trip here last month and sets a high standard from a decent draw. He will be held up for his customary late run on this return to his optimum distance and will be hard to beat as long as he can avoid any traffic problems. The biggest danger could be Rivellino, who was third in this last year and looked better than ever when taking a Listed qualifier over course and distance in February but stall 11 will make his task more difficult. Reigning champion Alben Star is coming to the boil after chasing home Pretend over a trip short of his best and should give another good account, while Boom The Groom and Foxtrot Romeo have the talent to make a race of it, too.