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A difficult evening at Stratford, made more difficult by the ease in the ground, and by the sad loss of the super-promising Killyglass, who broke his shoulder landing after the third hurdle. Tragic for connections.
We’ll move on to Sandown this afternoon, and some soft ground action which includes a fascinating Listed clash at 3.55.
Clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you’ll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They’re well worth a little play if you haven’t done so already.
2.20 Sandown: As is often the case at Sandown, we start with a five furlong dash down the middle of the course, and thirteen are still engaged after a couple of early defections. Soft ground form and a draw away from the middle is probably an ideal combination and, with that in mind, Senator Bong looks likely to run well.
He’ll be ridden by birthday boy, Ryan Moore, and should appreciate the ease in both grade and ground.
Others to consider in a typically open sprint handicap include Solemn if he’s not hamstrung by his middlish draw; and maybe Italian Tom who drops in class and may be well boxed in four.
A – 2 (Senator Bong), 4 (Italian Tom), 5 (Solemn)
2.50 Sandown: A two-year-old mile maiden, and seven of the nine are returning to the track after a single prior run. All can be expected to improve, and it may be a question of which one improves the most. Moreover, none of them have yet experienced ground softer than good, which adds another degree of complexity.
The pick of the form to date is probably Early Morning, who was just a neck behind Ensuring last time on his second run. Six lengths further back that day was Flag War and, even with the benefit of experience and the extra furlong, it’s hard to see him reversing placings today.
Mustamir just lacked a bit of finishing zip on his debut at Thirsk, over this trip, and it might be that the soft ground plays to his grinding strengths. He’ll have the birthday boy atop and that will help. Notarised was behind Mustamir then, by around three and a half lengths, and it’s possible jockey Joe Fanning will bid to make all today. If he does, he could be hard to wear down. It’s not really a race to bet in but the above trio should all get competitive.
A – 2 (Early Morning), 7 (Mustamir)
B – 8 (Notarised)
3.20 Sandown: An unappealing three horse contest, where none has yet run on soft ground. Xanthos is better than his last place finish in the valuable York sales race won by Haikbidiac, but whether he’s better than – or better suited to soft than – the other pair is a moot point. Signposted is a worthy favourite, but I’m not excited by odds on quotes about his chance, all the same. And Peacemaker, as a daughter of High Chapparal, could improve the most for the soft ground. She’ll need to as she’s achieved the least thus far.
A – 3 (Signposted)
B – 2 (Xanthos), 4 (Peacemaker)
3.55 Sandown: They bet 10/1 bar two in this tidy Listed event, and I make them right. It looks very much a two horse race between the progressive Wentworth and the proven Penitent (Nap).
The former is untried on soft ground but is expected to continue his improvement on it. Time will tell on that. Certainly his win in the Betfred Mile last time gives him a right to respect in this more esteemed company and, if he does go on the ground, he’d only need to improve around six or seven pounds, which is perfectly plausible.
However, he’s up against an under-rated nag in my view, and one that I backed last night at 9/4 for this as the best bet of the day. He’s now into a best priced 7/4 and as short as 6/4. The reason is that he’s in good form, and absolutely loves loves loves soft ground.
His record on soft or heavy is 21115. That string of 1’s includes the mile Lincoln handicap and two wins here, this race in 2010 and the Group 2 bet365 Mile last year. He’s been running well on unsuitably fast ground this term, including when second in a Group 3 on his only run this year on softer than good (good to soft). And I thought he was excellent value at 9/4 last evening.
I still feel he’s the more likely winner, proven as he is under today’s conditions and in a higher grade. Wentworth is a very worthy opponent, but has a couple of questions to answer (class, ground) which make his price on the lean side for my tastes.
The rest? Well, they’ve not managed a UK pattern win in fifteen collective attempts and that’s well below the standard set by the selection. Boomshackerlacker looked good on deep ground as a 2yo, including when winning a Listed race in France, and might be worth a throwaway shekel at 20/1 or so.
A – 2 (Penitent)
4.30 Sandown: A fillies’ handicap for three-year-olds. These races are, as regular readers will know, a blind spot for me. Luckily I have the race analysis report to help me!
It tells me that Beautiful View might be value, as she loves soft ground, something she’s not yet had in three runs this term. During that time, her handicap mark has dropped from 88 to 85, enough to sneak her in here off top weight.
Cosseted and Al Jamal are proven at this level but unproven on soft. If either acts on it, they should go close. Cosseted, a daughter of Pivotal, is bred to handle the surface and is preferred of the pair.
Of the remainder, Narmin, another Pivotal filly is on the hat-trick here and could improve for deeper turf. Not a betting race for me, but I think the top one might just be a bit of value at around 10/1.
A – 1 (Beautiful View), 5 (Narmin), 9 (Cosseted)
5.05 Sandown: Maiden fillies. Eight of ’em after Running Deer has come out. Another blind spot for me, so don’t expect a tip. In trying to get through the last leg of the placepot, should we be lucky enough to still be in it, we need to be aware of the fact that a single further non-runner will bring us down to seven and just two places.
Favoured is Kalispell, a Godolphin inmate which has been off the track for a year as near as doesn’t matter. She ran to within a half length of Group 2 Park Stakes winner, The Lark, on the second of those runs. That was on soft, and there’s a fair chance she’s been saved for rain-tampered ground. If she’s fit, that form is close to the best.
Against her is the exposed Whippy Cream. Although exposed, she was good enough to finish third on the Italian Oaks earlier this year on heavy and she has an official rating of 96 as a consequence.
I can’t see anything else winning, and I’m going to side singly with Kalispell on the placepot.
A – 5 (Kalispell)
5.35 Sandown: Topamichi has had more tries than most of these, but he’s certainly the best equipped on known form to deal with the conditions. The main danger could be Fast Pace, who also has soft ground form, but I’m hopeful that Birthday Moore can top and tail the meeting with wins.
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