Sweltering conditons and the 48 hour declaration of Guineas and Derby hero Sea The Stars means they’ll be packing into Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon for what looks set to be a top notch card at the Esher venue.
Sandown has to be one of my favourite tracks be it on the Flat or over the sticks – you can pretty much guarantee a decent crowd for the better days, the racing tends to be well above average, the facilities are in good nick and the viewing is excellent. That said they do have very excitable car park attendants, but you can’t have it all…..
Coral sponsor their big day on the level and have cleverly come up with some catchy new race titles for the afternoon’s action; of particular interest is the Coral Challenge Handicap over a mile at 2.40pm.
My old mate Lord Culcheth is frequently accused of being challenged, but even he can see the argument for rowing in with Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirrored at the sponsor’s 9/2.
Desert Deer is the only three year old to win the race in the last ten years, but I really like the look of Mirrored striking a blow for the younger horses here after a fine third to Fareer in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A decent sized field of 17 should ensure a decent pace for him to chase, and he can score on his first try against the older horses.
Already a course and distance winner here in May, that win was preceeded by a victory on his seasonal bow on the all weather at Kempton Park, and coupled with the battling attitude he showed to get up and take third at Royal Ascot I like the look of him in this company.
Ryan Moore is up, and what’s more the weight for age allowance means he carries just 8st 6lbs despite a perfectly resonable looking official mark of 95. Lightly raced Mirrored looks to hold a big chance.
Anyone looking for an each way saver on the race ought to get involved with Chris Wall’s 10 year old Ace Of Hearts - the old boy looks in great heart: he scored at Doncaster last time out, won this very race back in 2005, was second in it in 2006 and then found only Lovelace too good in last year’s renewal. At 14/1 each way with bet365 he could easily make the frame once again.
Earlier in the day in the Coral Charge at 2.05pm in-form William Haggas’s Triple Aspect bids to make it three from three visits to the track, but although the Danetime colt won here last time conceding weight all round in a listed race, he strikes me as a horse who wants further than the bare five furlongs, and either way I can’t resist having a few quid on Luca Cumani’s Ialysos.
Dubbed the ‘Greak Freak’ this fascinating five year old is a son of Nunthorpe winner So Factual, and after winning all seven career starts at Greece’s Markopoulu racecourse the speedball was transferred to Luca Cumani’s Newmarket based operation.
An immediate listed success at Haydock was the response, and although his chance evaporated in Royal Ascot’s six furlong Golden Jubilee after he was bumped around and eased down, a drop in class and distance could be the formula to see him return to the winner’s enclosure. Ialysos is a 9/2 poke with William Hill and should be backed to win providing significant rain does not arrive.
The big one arrives at 3.15pm in the shape of the Group 1 ‘clash of the generations’ Coral-Eclipse, and I’ll be having a ‘sporting’ wager on Aidan O’Brien’s Rip Van Winkle to halt Sea The Stars’ annexation of the season’s major prizes.
I readily acknowledge the favourite may prove to be unbeatable at 1m 2f, but the threat of persistent thundery showers reaching the track late on Thursday and into Friday could have a say, plus I’ve a sneaking suspicion this could be the day Rip Van Winkle chooses to show us quite why he’s been the subject of so much hype, why his master trainer reveres him to such an extent, and why Johnny Murtagh chose him ahead of eventual favourite Fame And Glory in the Derby.
Murtagh is banned on this occasion and the mount goes to the excellent Jimmy Fortune.
Granted there is something of a leap of faith involved with getting involved with Rip Van Winkle considering he hasn’t won for a year and was fourth to Sea The Stars in both the Guineas and the Derby.
That said Aidan O’Brien has an excellent record in the Eclipse in recent times, and don’t forget his three year old winners Hawk Wing in 2002 and Oratorio in 2005 were each beaten in both the Guineas and the Derby before making hay at Sandown.
Also don’t overlook the stat regarding recent Derby winners in the Eclipse: since Nashwan won both in 1989 famous names such as Erhaab, Benny The Dip, Motivator and Authorized have tried and failed to add the Eclipse to their respective Epsom successes.
With that in mind back Rip Van Winkle each way at 4/1 with Paddy Power, safe in the knowledge you’ll get the lion’s share of your stake back if he can only finish second or third.
Later in the day Jane Chapple-Hyam chooses the Coral Marathon at 4.20pm as Judgethemonent’s alternative target after the four year old was one of many non runners at rain affected Newcastle last weekend.
This classy stayer took the Ascot Stakes under a canny ride from Richard Hughes a couple of weeks ago, and I fancy him to upset favourite Gravitation at a decent price. The 3/1 with Coral looks about right.
Lastly, up at Haydock the bet365 sponsored Old Newton Cup is certain to be a keen betting heat, and I reckon race specialist Luca Cumani has got another one up his sleeve in the shape of Falcativ.
Cumani boasts a frankly incredible record in the race since 1997: five runners have yielded an astonishing four winners and a second!
What’s more, in a race that’s been dominated by four and five year olds in recent times you have to take notice when he has a neatly weighted contender who won ever so comfortably at Yarmouth in May.
A disappointing return to the track in the hands of a claimer at Doncaster saw the handicapper drop him a pound, and now he looks poised to strike as Dane O’Neill takes over steering duties as the stable bid for a first prize in excess of £52,000.
Back him each way at a very reasonable looking 9/1 with William Hill.
Saturday’s tips at Sandown & Haydock:
2.05 Sandown – Coral Charge – 4 Ialysos (win) @ 9/2 (William Hill)
2.40 Sandown – Coral Challenge Handicap – 5 Ace Of Hearts (each way) @ 14/1 (bet365)
3.15 Sandown – Coral Eclipse – 8 Rip Van Winkle (each way) @ 4/1 (Paddy Power)
3.30 Haydock – bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap – 11 Falcativ (each way) @ 9/1 (William Hill)
4.20 Sandown – Coral Marathon – 3 Judgethemoment (win) @ 3/1 (Coral)
Tags: ace of hearts, Aidan O'Brien, betting, britannia stakes, Channel 4 Racing, Coral, coral eclipse, coral marathon, desert deer, falcativ, haydock, horse racing, judgethemoment, lalysos, luca cumani, mirrored, morning line, odds, rip van winkle, ryan moore, sandown, sea the stars, sir michael stoute, tom lee, weekend tips, william haggas