Sandown Park stage a cracking flat card this afternoon on ground officially, at the time of writing, good to soft but there is more rain forecast for later today. There is every chance that Sacred Act (1.40) was flattered by his Nottingham win on debut given the second (Fast Delivery) and third (Art Of War) may have been racing each other but he overcame greenness to show an excellent turn of foot and his Royal Ascot entry suggests he might be open to further improvement. He is currently 5/2 with BetVictor and that looks a fair price.
Champion jockey Richard Hughes has his first ride back since injury on Art Official for Richard Hannon but a bigger danger could come from Godolphin’s First Flight who looked ill at ease on fast ground in the Acomb Stakes back in August having looked potentially useful when winning at Newbury on debut earlier in the month.
The Bet365 Gordon Stakes is a cracker and I would be more confident about the chances of Telescope (2.10) if the Sir Michael Stoute camp had made a better start to the campaign. My Newmarket source insists the 4-y-o has done plenty of work but he is sure to come on for the run with the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June his first major target for the season. It looks a match between the selection (Evens at BetVictor) and Godolphin’s Sky Hunter but I give the vote to the favourite.
I was a big fan of Montiridge (2.45) last season and hope he can make a winning seasonal debut for Richard Hannon/Hughes in the Group 2 Mile. The recommendation is 3/1 at BetVictor with Top Notch Tonto the 9/4 favourite for Brian Ellison who is the best of these on official BHA figures. The latter improved out of all recognition last term but he hasn’t won first time out in either season so far and might find Montiridge too sharp.
Unbeaten Western Hymn (4/6) is had to oppose in the Classic Trial after an impressive reappearance at Newbury and the colt is currently 12/1 for the Derby at BetVictor. It would be disappointing if he couldn’t make it three out of three with the yard in such good form although the Conditions race he won at the Berkshire track may not have been the most competitive seen at the track.
Richard Hannon may hold the key in the finale; Hymenaios (4.55) had the form of his Doncaster maiden win boosted when third horse home Romsdal run away with a Kempton maiden next time and I think Richard Hughes may have made a mistake siding with Windshear although the latter is 6lbs lower in the weights than he would be if this race was run 24 hours later as a result of his recent Newmarket second.
There will be many future winners come out of the race but, whilst it could easily be a Hannon 1-2 with many of the opposition making their seasonal debuts, it is Hymanaios with Pat Dobbs in the saddle who gets the nod.
The ground has turned soft for Perth’s final card of their three-day meeting and I have been looking forward to the day when Un Guet Apens (3.35) steps up to 2m 4f for James Ewart and I would be disappointed if he didn’t improve for the extra half a mile.
I wonder if the penny has finally dropped for Sybarite (4.45) after his win at Ludlow over 3m last time? This horse was once the apple of jockey Paddy Brennan’s eye and many in the yard thought he would become a Gold Cup horse one day. He races off a mark of 116 this afternoon and if consenting to put his best hoof forward he would be too good for this lot. It is a big if however!