HEAVY ground at Hamilton has meant a serious rummage through the formbook searching for past winning mudlarks and I'm hopeful dual course winner VIVE LA DIFFERENCE (4.00) will bounce back to form.
Tim Easterby's gelding thumped Strong Steps here last June (soft) and although Jim Goldie's runner-up is a massive 16lb better off, Vive La Difference won with lots of authority. This extra furlong on deep ground is a slight concern but that doubt is factored into his price.
Sputnik Planum looked useful when scoring on soft last season and will probably leave his poor Chester comeback effort well behind. Illustrissime scored on soft at Catterick last October and has to enter calculatioons.
AUXILIARY (3.00) will be hard to beat in the 1m 5f handicap. He won here last June over a shorter trip and finished runner-up on heavy over 1m 6f at Carlisle last September. Stamina shouldn't be an issue and Danny Tudhope takes the mount.
David Menuisier is a rare sighting in these parts and Battle Of Issus is surely better than he has shown in four pretty dismal attempts so far. He has probably come here for the ground and could be a springer in the market.
Pammi split Soldier To Follow and Pentland Hills here on soft last September but seems to have gone off the boil. Onda District, denied on the line by Majestic Stone at Carlisle (soft) last week may be a bigger danger but has had plenty of chances.
ZIG ZAG ZIGGY (4.30) has an exemplary record at Hamilton and a 3lb rise for beating Tommy G should keep him competitive in quite a hot 6f handicap. Imperial State is the one to fear most.
WRENTHORPE (5.00) looks the wrong price at 12-1 given he won on soft at Nottingham, then ran second at Thirsk and third at Ripon last month. Harry Russell takes off 7lb.
There is some competitive racing elsewhere and WAARIF (3.50) is trading at an each-way price in the 1m 1f handicap at Ripon. Although carrying top weight, Waarif remains well treated and has some excellent back-form at the track.
At shorter odds MAAMORA (4.50) can put a dose of seconditis behind her in the maiden. She caught in tartar in John Gosden's Terebellum last time and this drop in trip should do the trick.
10:45 Stratford - Race: 1
11:00 Wincanton - Race: 1
11:15 Stratford - Race: 2