Tuesday 5.30pm.You won’t mind it raining this Saturday as ITV have some belting racing on the telly. Many of these races are already priced up and there could be some value in getting on early.
1:50 Coral Charge (Group 3) (Registered As The Sprint Stakes) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f10y
Not everybody’s favourite 5F as it runs up the middle of Sandown Park and drawn low then bagging the far rail is the normal route to success. As I haven’t got access to the draw I will try to find the quickest horse!
One is immediately drawn to the two Hamdan Al Maktoum horses Muthmir and Battaash. The former rather lost his way last season but has been back in the winner’s enclosure this season beating Mr Lupton at Bath in a Conditions contest and then picking up a G2 at Chantilly and his last time fourth to Lady Aurelia in the Kings Stand is pretty close to a career best. Battaash on the other hand comes here after winning a 3yo Listed contest over course and distance in a quick time and he showed an explosive turn of foot in doing so despite having been drawn furthest from that rail and over racing in the first two furlongs. Battaash would receive ten pounds from Muthmir though I think it unlikely they would both run.
Aidan O’Briens Washington DC would be a player if put on the plane with their Eclipse runners. His form in Listed races is 2111 whereas in Group company it is 27235202277260 and therefore he would be un-penalised in this race.
The 7yo Line of Reason is in cracking form and Paul Midgely has already booked Oisin Murphy, who won on him last time, but the horse has shown nothing out of handicaps in the past.
Clive Cox’s 3yo Tis Marvellous has been mixing it in hot company this season with the likes of Caravaggio, Blue Point and Harry Angel and getting the allowance here could well be competitive at Listed level with the assistance of Gerald Mosse.
One star* win Washington DC @ 8/1 WH + PP One star* win Tis Marvellous @ 9/1 WH + Coral
2:25 Coral Challenge (Handicap) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m
The top half in the weights were Hunt Cup candidates at Royal Ascot whereas those at the bottom were balloted out plus a sprinkling of 3yo’s getting nine pounds! Looking back at the last five runnings of this event suggests you don’t want to be too far back, prominent or midfield, the 3yo’s struggle to be competitive, keep an eye out for Mark Johnston runners and you need to be drawn in the lowest six stalls! Indeed you could back stall 4 blind as it housed the winner for the past three seasons! Nothing special last time out and if it was Royal Ascot just as likely to be the Wolferton as the Hunt Cup, any price, a mark around OR99 and a previous run at Sandown is useful.
All that said there looks a standout horse here. Greenside won over course and distance last time out with Ryan Moore in the saddle. They won a little cosily as a little keen turning for home they had to bide their time but when the gap came they were away and gone. Up five pounds to OR99 Henry Candy has booked Moore again and in a well-timed At the Races stable tour the trainer says “He is a very admirable horse and although he hasn’t been the soundest over the years, he is maturing now at the ripe old age of six. He was unlucky not to win first time out at Sandown and then won very nicely on his return visit when Ryan Moore rode him. He is a beautifully bred horse with a lot of ability and he is going to run in the big open handicap at Sandown this weekend.”
Greenside one star* win @ 6/1 general. I’m in again on Thursday if he is drawn 1-6.
3:00 Coral Distaff (Listed Race) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m
The market for this race is wide open as I write with the 5/1 favourite having only won a C5 maiden on Turf although Amabilis ran close to some useful fillies as a 2yo. As a Listed race for 3yo fillies my first stop has to be with John Gosden and he has two entries in Dancing Breeze, with William Buick already jocked up and Standing Rock who has won her only start to date.
Runners from the Sandringham handicap at Royal Ascot often make their next appearance here, although the form is rarely backed up, and from this year’s race Dancing Breeze was one of my Royal Ascot eye-catchers, “Solid effort here having been drawn on the wing with little cover on the far side when the race was down the middle and her OR drops from 90 to 87. Her turn isn’t far away. Might be worth a try in a C3 10F 3yo filly’s only handicap?” John Gosden obviously disagrees over trip and grade!
She takes on two fillies who finished ahead of her when seventh in the Sandringham Handicap in Paco’s Angel who was third and Queen of Time who was fourth. The official handicapper says Paco’s Angel is seven pounds well in with the other two but I’m not convinced she truly stays a mile. The whole field came stands side and went too fast early on and the pace collapsed at the furlong pole with those horses coming from way back filling the frame and the improving Queen of Time didn’t have the clearest of runs having started in stall 13 and raced on the slower middle part of the track, a view backed up by trainer Henry Candy in the ATR stable tour, “She is a very progressive filly and a half sister to Bounce. I thought she ran a cracking race in the Sandringham and she will probably be going off to Sandown for the distaff which is the mile listed for three-year-old fillies on Eclipse Day on Saturday.”
Standing Rock won her C4 maiden at Newbury three weeks ago despite running green but when the penny dropped she powered home. Nothing behind her has in any way franked the form so she has to remain “could be anything”.
One star* win Dancing Breeze @ 16/1 WH One star* win Queen of Time @ 7/1 WH + Coral
3:35 Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m1f209y
The afternoons feature but to me a real conundrum. It’s the first Group 1 race of the season where the 3yo’s take on their elders and they get a very handy ten pound allowance BUT I thought we all agreed this year’s 3yo colts are modest at best and very much of a muchness so I’m mildly surprised they occupy the top three places in the market with Cliffs of Moher, Barney Roy and Eminent. Whereas Decorated Knight and Ulysses were only just over a length behind Highland Reel over this 10F trip in the G1 Prince of Wales at the Royal meeting.
Barney Roy has never raced further than a mile and beating Lancaster Bomber doesn’t up to a fat lot! I don’t think Eminent is as good as Martyn Meade thinks he is! Too many questions over both for me. Cliffs of Moher is a different kettle of fish as this is surely his best trip, he didn’t go to Ascot and Coolmore are not to be trifled with. However if Highland Reel was in here he would be a 2/1 favourite at best and I’m with the older horses and going for form in the book. It’s a toss-up between Decorated Knight and Ulysses. Trends for this race suggest “10/12 winners had at least 1 previous Group 1 win” suggesting Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight but the ground looks to be firming up and regular pilot Andrea Atzeni is booked to be at Haydock whereas Ulysses keeps his jockey from the Prince of Wales, Jim Crowley, so I’m going for Sir Michael Stoute to get another Eclipse victory with Ulysses and the horse to win the Group 1 the trainer always felt he would.
One star* win Ulysses @ 8/1 general