Sandown stages the premier evening meeting of the year tonight with a pair of Group 3’s and a listed race to be run on ground forecast to be soft after a deluge on Tuesday.
No surprise to see Hillstar (2/1 fav) dropped back in trip having pulled hard in the early stages at Chester (1m 5f) behind Brown Panther on his reappearance.
The Stoute-trained 4-year-old has won on soft ground but his best form is on a faster surface and he is overlooked in favour of Godolphin’s Sharestan (7.50) proven on the ground and with an excellent record fresh.
This might be the time to catch him with Kieren Fallon, who rode him to victory at Ayr back in September, back in the plate and at 11/4 with BetVictor he gets the vote.
Brown Panther (7.15) must give weight to all but one of his eleven rivals in the Henry II Stakes but the Chester winner can pass the test with the ground again in his favour.
Owned and bred by BetVictor Brand ambassador Michael Owen the 6-y-o is our 11/4 favourite with Alan King’s former Ebor winner (when trained by Lady Cecil) Tiger Cliff next best at 7/2.
There is plenty of pace in the finale and that might suit those that like to come from off the pace and the nod goes to Abseil (8.50) who had to be dropped in from his wide draw when runner up to handicap good thing Here Comes When at Chester earlier in the month.
Soft ground is the order of the day at Haydock for the first day of their three-day meeting and the card begins with a 12f maiden for which Min Alemarat (2.20) must take all the beating given the form of his second to Wrangler at Salisbury earlier in the month was franked by the winner following up over today’s C&D last weekend.
Trainer Marco Botti has his string in good form and his colt still has an entry for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot later in next month.
The favourite has won this opening race on the card in the last six years and the selection is likely to have most to fear from Godolphin’s Conquerant although he did disappoint on his only previous start on soft ground and he might not need as stiff a stamina test as the selection at this stage of his career.
I thought Red Icon (3.20) ran a race of considerable promise on debut at Chester in the colours of Sir Alex Ferguson over the minimum trip and today’s additional furlong really ought to suit.
This corresponding race was won by Richard Hannon’s Bunker on debut last year and that colt finished runner up at Royal Ascot on his next start before beating subsequent French Guineas winner Karakontie at Deauville.
Today’s newcomers include the 115,000 Gns purchase Brando, who is a son of Pivotal and should love the ease in the ground, and 100,000 Guineas Tupi the mount of Frankie Dettori the only ride on the card for the Italian. It promises to be a most informative contest but Red Icon has the valuable experience and gets the vote.
Kevin Ryan’s Ardmay (3.50) can race off a mark 9lb lower than when last successful and he hinted that his turn was near when finishing third at Ripon from today’s mark last time over 10 furlongs.
He drops back to a mile this afternoon, acts on soft or heavy ground, has already got a course win to his name and must go close. It should be noted that he also holds an entry back here on Saturday also over a mile. Jamie Spencer looks a significant booking.
Norway Cross (4.20) didn’t have the race run to suit when runner up to Debdebdeb at Bath on her reappearance but the winner has since franked the form just losing out from a 4lb higher mark at Goodwood.
The Luca Cumani trained filly is lightly-raced, entitled to come on for her reappearance at Bath, has winning form on soft ground and represents a stable in cracking form.
Allnecessaryforce will appreciate stepping back up in trip having made a pleasing reappearance at Beverley earlier in the month and he is 3lb lower than when running a cracker at York last season under similar underfoot conditions.
He is worth more than just a check in the market for the Richard Fahey stable.
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