Baltic Knight can prove too hot to handle
This afternoon's Betfred.com Silver Bowl at Haydock has the makings of a cracking contest, with the 15-strong field headed by three 100-plus rated horses.
To put that into context, since 2007, just three horses rated 100 or more have tackled the one-mile handicap, in which Andrew Balding's Here Comes When shades favouritism here.
A ready winner at Chester last time, he is up just 8lb and has the scope to keep improving on just his fifth start under William Buick.
He should certainly go close, though it is worth noting that he got the run of the race from a plum inside draw at Chester, so he doesn't have huge appeal off his new mark at relatively short odds.
Further down the page in the three-year-olds' contest, Ed Dunlop's Red Avenger has plenty of each-way appeal at double-figure showings.
Twice a winner and a head second from four starts as a juvenile, the War Front colt stepped up on his seasonal reappearance to finish second to Glean in a decent race at Newmarket three weeks ago.
Glean got first run on him on that occasion, so Red Avenger ought to be better suited by the truer pace that he will get here, and he is in off the same rating for a low weight of 8st 6lb under Royston Ffrench.
However, it is Baltic Knight, one of the three 100-plus horses that will each carry more than 9st, that is fancied to defy his burden and win.
Like Red Avenger, this Richard Hannon-trained colt won twice and was also beaten a head in three of its four starts last year and he began 2013 by making all to repel Here Comes When with far more authority than a neck margin suggests when conceding 13lb at Newbury.
Crucially in relation to that rival today, he must give away just 6lb now, while his only run in the meantime doesn't in any way dampen enthusiasm for him.
In a seven-furlong Listed event that was won by Dundonnell at Newmarket, he got slightly tapped for toe before staying on with real purpose in the last 100 yards.
That left the impression that a first start over a mile would be the obvious next step, so this could be the day to keep him onside, as he remains an extremely progressive horse.
Granted, he has plenty of weight, but he undoubtedly has the quality to match. Baltic Knight is also ground versatile and, while he enjoys making the running, he won from behind at Kempton last year.
That gives Sean Levey, the former Ballydoyle apprentice who continues to impress in England, the option to ride the race as he finds it, all of which makes offerings of around 6/1 seem more than fair.
Eddie Lynam's Sole Power will relish the fast ground when he tackles the Temple Stakes under Fran Berry. Successful in this Group Two in 2011 and a commendable second to Bated Breath 12 months ago, he showed the benefit of a couple of outings in Dubai to deny Kingsgate Native – the 2010 winner of this – at Newmarket recently.
As such, Sole Power is entitled to be favourite here, but Kingsgate Native's price of 11/1 is a discrepancy, given that he was only half a length away last time.
Despite not getting his head in front since denying Equiano here during his time with Michael Stoute, the dual Group One winner showed at Newmarket that he remains a force.
Most importantly, that was his first outing of the new campaign for Robert Cowell, so there is every chance that he will come on for the run. At eight years of age, he is by no means spent at this level and ought to at least outrun his odds under Shane Kelly.
Of the nine Irish runners in Britain today, Pat Shanahan's Ralston Road appeals most in the extended 11-furlong handicap at Chester.
Tadhg O'Shea's mount has top-weight, but the form of his gritty Leopardstown maiden win has worked out well, so he isn't without a live chance from a favourable inside draw.
Best Bet: Baltic Knight