12:20 Sandown – Coral Charge (Group 3)
The draw hasn’t been at all kind to him but despite that, it’s difficult not to have a small play on MIRZA, even at the ripe old age of 11. The son of Oasis Dream has been an absolute credit to connections, winning no less than 11 races and accumulating over £280k of earnings in 67 career starts. He ran extremely well in this race last year, albeit from a much better draw but he only found the very-talented Battaash too good (giving him weight) and was three-lengths clear of the third horse (Muthmir was a further length back in 4th). While it’s unlikely he can reproduce that effort from stall 9, 25/1 is too big to ignore. Of the others, it’s also worth playing Mr Lupton who has been drawn in stall 5 and is sure to have the race run to suit him.
12:55 Sandown – Coral Challenge
Another selection from a less than ideal draw but if RAISING SAND can run to the level that saw him finish 3rd to Group One winner, Accidental Agent, he must have an outstanding chance. That effort came at Ascot last October and where he finished 3/4L behind the second placed Lord Glitters, who won the Balmoral Handicap on his next start and has since been second in the Lincoln and, most recently, in the QEII behind the aforementioned Accidental Agent. Jamie Spencer rode the selection in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and he was unlucky not to finish a lot closer. He was caught up in the wrong group and had to switch right twice before finishing with a flourish once in the clear. That run was only his second of the season and it will have left him spot on for this. If he can overcome his horrid draw, he has to go close.
13:30 Sandown – Coral Distaff (Listed)
There has been a wave of persistent support for NARELLA who has joined Roger Varian from Markus Klug and if the money for her is anything to go by, she’s clearly expected to make her British debut a winning one. She was very impressive in a Group Three at Baden-Baden before disappointing in the Marcel Boussac on Arc day last October. The fact she was considered good enough to run in that race suggests she’s high class and provided she’s fit enough, she should prove hard to beat.
14:10 Sandown – Coral-Eclipse (Group One)
The addition of SAXON WARRIOR makes the 43rd running of the Coral-Eclipse all the more interesting and, all of a sudden, it looks a race to savour. This year’s crop of 3YOs have come in for a lot of criticism and while they’re by no means a vintage bunch, the prospect of seeing the top three of their division clash at Sandown is exciting. Throw in a 3YO filly with a big reputation and impeccable breeding (Happily), an improving 4YO who has won a Grade 3 and a Grade 2 on his last two starts (Forest Ranger) and a couple of “outsiders” who aren’t befitting of that title (Cliffs Of Moher & Hawkbill) and the stage is set for a cracking renewal of the race. One has to assume that Saxon Warrior is 100% ready to go after his effort in the Irish Derby last week. If the race was run again at a decent, even pace, I think he’d have just about won. However, it was a very muddling contest and it’s clear that he’s not the horse connections thought he’d be over the trip. This trip is much more to his liking, and, I would suggest that he’ll be even better if dropped back to a mile, but that’s for another day. Yes, he was well beaten by Masar in the Derby. He ran flat, and didn’t see out the trip as well as the others. However, let’s not forget that he travelled all over the Derby winner and Roaring Lion in the 2000 Guineas. He covered the width of the Rowley Mile once he hit the front because he had so much in the tank. He dotted up in that race and if this trip can see him travel with the same enthusiasm and power as the Guineas, he’ll set the record straight and win the Coral-Eclipse.
14:35 Sandown – coral.co.uk Handicap
A wind operation worked the oracle for MANTHOOR who broke his duck at the sixth attempt at Lingfield. While the form of that win is nothing special, he couldn’t have been more impressive and, now that he’s got his head in front, he’s likely to progress into a smart horse.
15:20 Sandown – Coral Marathon (Listed)
PLATITUDE is another horse who seemed to benefit from a wind op when he won a decent staying handicap at Goodwood on his seasonal debut. He’s entitled to strip fitter for that effort and if that allows him to improve from the form which saw him mix it with the likes of Magic Circle, he should prove very competitive at this level.
15:55 Sandown – Download The Coral App Handicap
Hopefully you’ll be well in front by this race but if you’re taking part in the ‘getting out stakes’, it might well pay to stick with BAJAN GOLD. Stuart Williams’ gelding has won his last two starts in the style of a horse with a lot in hand. He came wide the last day and ran around when he hit the front but still had plenty in reserve at the finish. A 5lb rise doesn’t look enough to stop him and he rates as a solid favourite in the lucky last.