Andrew Asquith outlines the Timeform view on the action at Kempton on Monday evening.
Dark Times didn't show much on her first three starts in minor/maiden company, but was far from knocked about, and appears to have been brought along with handicaps in mind following her improved performance on nursery debut over course and distance last month.
She was returning from a 12-week break and showed her first real form while still looking in need of the experience, settled in mid-division but running green when asked to quicken with the leaders at the two-furlong pole. Her response wasn't instant but she stayed on well enough in the closing stages to suggest she is well up to winning races from this mark, especially as she is likely to improve further. Dark Times will be suited by longer trips in time, but this doesn't look a strong race, and she is entitled to be sharper now, so is taken to open her account.
Urban Forest is just a fair maiden, but he has shown improved form since stepping up to a mile and a half of late, running a career best when second to a progressive filly at Ffos Las last time, and a similar performance will see him go close.
He wasn't beaten far in third on his previous start over the same course and distance the time before, either, and that form is proving solid for the grade with the runner-up winning next time. Urban Forest was no match for the winner last time but he stuck to his task well, having to be ridden along to stay in touch from halfway but he kept on strongly and pulled clear of the third. There isn't a rival as progressive as that one in this field, and the booking of William Buick very much catches the eye. It may be a sign of intent for a jockey and trainer combination that have teamed up only once and that was in 2011.
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