Saturday Racing Preview
Sandown takes centre stage this weekend for Group 1 action and one of my personal highlights of the season, The Coral Eclipse. The list of past winners is one full of legends with the likes of Enable, Roaring Lion, Golden Horn and Sea The Stars all winning in recent times. Elsewhere on the card we have Listed and Group 3 action, alongside some competitive looking handicaps. I will also look at the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks and the Old Newton Cup from Haydock.
We’ve had Harry Kane, now it’s time for Hurricane
The first race on the Sandown card is a Class 3 five-furlong handicap sprint where 10 runners are set to go to post. Course and distance winner, Spoof, looks sure to go well, whilst the incredibly consistent Lihou should be involved once again under Pierre-Louis Jamin’s 5lb claim. I’m going to take a chance on Hurricane Ivor 10/1 who finished last of twelve on debut for William Haggas in a race Spoof finished sixth in. Hurricane Ivor finished just over six lengths behind Spoof that day but has been dropped 4lbs by the handicapper and subsequently has a 5lb swing at the weights. Cieran Fallon didn’t give him a hard time and he was easing up come the finish line. Having previously been trained in France, Hurricane Ivor is entitled to improve plenty for that debut run and should enjoy the stiff Sandown finish having previously won over six furlongs. Any rain that does fall would be welcome to him. Haggas continues to have his string in fine form and Tom Marquand takes the ride. I think he has the talent to make his presence felt, in a race that could potentially suit.
He’s been kept busy but Keep Busy can reward connections
The first Group action of the day from Sandown comes next with the Coral Charge over a blistering five furlongs. Arecibo heads the current betting after a fine second in the Group 1 Kings Stand at Royal Ascot. With winning form on soft ground too, there is lots to like about his chance, but he will have to reverse the form with course and distance winner Lazuli. Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old beat the reopposing Came From The Dark at Newmarket last time out, but will have to concede weight all round. Keep Busy 6/1 was a length behind Arecibo at Royal Ascot but I believe Sandown’s stiff uphill finish could see a reversal in form. He has a 3lb pull at the weights and comes here off the back of a confidence boosting win at Ayr. He is a strong stayer at the trip and his only previous run yielded a staying on second to Lazuli on good to firm ground. He has improved 12lbs since that meeting and receives 6lbs from that rival today. If a third run in 17 days isn’t a step to far, I believe Keep Busy has plenty going for him, with both the track and race conditions set to suit.
Course and distance winner can strike again
The Coral Challenge Handicap over a mile is next up on the card where an extremely competitive field of 15 are set to line up. Magical Morning heads the current betting for Dettori and the Gosden’s after travelling well for along way on his seasonal reappearance at Royal Ascot. He’s entitled to improve for that run, but Trais Fluors 9/1 finished just over a neck behind him and has a 3lb pull at the weights. He endured a luckless passage at Royal Ascot and could never really hit top stride behind a wall of horses. His previous start yielded a good win over course and distance, so we know he goes well at the track. Mick Channon’s current form would be a slight concern but Champion Jockey, Oisin Murphy, takes the ride and at 9/1 he looks a nice each way play, especially against the favourite.
St Marks Basilica can prove his class
The Group 1 Coral Eclipse over a mile and two furlongs is the feature race of the day where a small but select field of four are set to go to post. Addeybb tops the Official Ratings and would be of major interest should the heavens open. He relishes testing conditions, highlighted by his Qipco Champions Stakes win over Group 1 winners Skalleti and Magical on soft ground last season. He should come into this in good form after another successful spell in Australia, but I do think he needs the rain to fall. At the time of writing, the forecast looks uneasy, and I just wouldn’t be convinced enough rain will fall to see Addeybb to best effect. Mishriff currently heads the betting for team Gosden after some excellent globe trotting exploits. Wins at Riyadh and Meydan have seen Mishriff surpass the ten-million-pound mark in prize money. David Egan partners him once again and he shouldn’t have any ground concerns, regardless of how much rain falls. I do have slight doubts about this trip for him though. He stayed on strongly over a mile and a half last time out and despite having high class winning form at the trip, I just get the feeling he wants a bit further and could be vulnerable to a speedier type.
St Marks Basilica 7/4 comes into this rated just 2lbs lower than Mishriff but being a three-year-old, receives the 10lb weight allowance, putting him nicely clear on Official Ratings. Aiden O’Brien’s son of Siyouni won the Group 1 Poulains on his seasonal reappearance over a mile, before stepping up to this trip on his last start to win the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club. On both occasions he cruised effortlessly into contention, before shooting clear in the closing stages. He looks to have the perfect blend of speed and stamina and further progress is a distinct possibility. My one concern is the ground. All his best form has come with ease in the going description, so like Addeybb, he may want the rain to fall. He does have a National Stakes third to his name on good ground, so I am hoping he’s slightly less ground dependent and can prove he’s the real deal!
Beach can put his rivals to the sword
The last race I have looked at from Sandown is the 4:10, a Class 2 handicap over a mile and two furlongs. A few of these are quite closely matched on Official Ratings especially those towards the head of the weights. It was Sword Beach 10/1 who caught my eye from the opposite end of the weights. He comes into this off bottom weight, rated 19lbs inferior to the top weighted Breath Caught, but he’s extremely unexposed at the trip. Predominately campaigned from six furlongs to a mile, Sword Beach caught my eye when powering through a Windsor handicap over just short of a mile and a half. He got quite hot that day and travelled enthusiastically throughout but still powered into contention before his effort slightly petered out. The form of that race is yet to be tested but the drop back to a mile and two furlongs looks a good move and he goes well on both good and soft ground. He ran a stormer at the track two starts back when second to Dashing Roger and ahead of Ransom, who could give the form a boost in the 2:25. If he handles the relatively quick turnaround, I think there is millage in his mark of 79 and he can go well for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.
Progressive sort can land Haydock Handicap
The first race I will look at from Haydock is the bet365 handicap over a mile and six furlongs. William Haggas send the progressive Dhushan 3/1 who I believe will relish this step up in trip. Lifetime figures of 2211 demonstrate consistency but also improvement. His two wins to date came once stepped up a mile and half and I believe there is further improvement to come over this longer trip. His form wouldn’t read that well, but he’s won his last two starts with the minimum of fuss and being by Sea The Stars and out of a useful mare, he’s bred to be better than a mark of 92. I think he is a seriously progressive horse who may find himself pitched into a St Ledger later in the season.
Epsom form to the fore in Lancashire Oaks
The feature race of the day at Haydock is the Group 2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks over a mile and a half. Alphinista heads the current betting and finds herself nicely clear on Official Ratings. She knuckled down well to win on seasonal reappearance but must concede weight to some promising younger fillies. Dubai Fountain won the Cheshire Oaks before disappointing at Epsom. She bounced back with a good fifth at Royal Ascot, but I would favour the chances of Mystery Angel 11/2 who finished second in the Epsom Classic. Take out Snowfall and George Boughey’s filly would be a good winner of the Oaks. The form of that Oaks would look okay too, with the third Divinly running a good race at Royal Ascot and the fifth Santa Barbara narrowly being beaten in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes. Mystery Angel hasn’t been seen since so she should come into this nice and fresh. She shouldn’t have any ground concerns either having ran to a fair level on all types of ground. On Official Ratings she has plenty to find with Alphinista, but the 12lb allowance brings her right into contention and she may have further improvement in her.
Newton Cup can go to the Dragon
Next up on the Haydock card is the bet365 Old Newton Cup over a mile and a half. The lightly raced Longsider made quite the impression on his seasonal debut but with just three lifetime starts under his belt he faces a big task against some battle-hardened handicappers. Quite a few of these ran at Royal Ascot especially in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. Zabeel Champion did the best of todays runners, finishing a respectable third, two and a half lengths ahead of Aaddeey. The pair have solid enough claims, but I like the chances of Scarlett Dragon 20/1 who finished a further two lengths behind Aaddeey in sixth. Slowly out the stalls and very keen through the early stages, Scarlett Dragon didn’t make life easy for himself, but when the gap appeared up the inside turning for home, he cruised into contention. He looked the winner two furlongs from home, but his finishing effort wasn’t there, and he faded in the closing stages. He was dropped a further pound by the handicapper and has a minor pull at the weights with both Zabeel Champion and Aaddeey. David Probert takes the ride, and I am hoping he can switch Scarlett Dragon off and then pounce late on. At the prices he looks a great each way play.
By Sam Rideout
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