Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Sandown and Haydock on Saturday. View selections below.
The bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock is sure to be run on deep ground and that will not inconvenience DESERT ENCOUNTER (2.50).
He has strung together four straight victories, two of them coming when the mud has been flying. After trotting up at Doncaster, Desert Encounter saw off Poyle Thomas on much quicker terrain at Newmarket and the form was boosted by that horse’s excellent effort in last week’s Northumberland Vase at Newcastle.
Desert Encounter was fitted with a hood for his latest outing but still seemed to idle in front when beating Passover at Windsor (soft) last week and on a line through that runner-up there is little separating my selection and top weight First Sitting.
The weights slightly favour First Sitting but heavy ground may not suit him as well as Desert Encounter. The hood is retained by David Simcock and Jamie Spencer will adopt customary waiting tactics on his mount.
Duretto has won on soft and enters the reckoning along with steady improver Tawdeea.
THE GURKHA (3.45) roared to the top of the Coral-Eclipse ante-post book when the rain arrived at Sandown and it is difficult to punch holes in his form.
Ryan Moore’s troubled run in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot has been well documented and an outside draw in stall seven here isn’t ideal. With Roger Charlton running Countermeasure as a pacemaker, however, The Gurkha should have plenty of time up the stiff Sandown straight to manoeuvre into a stalking position and his run behind Galileo Gold, with impressive Irish Guineas winner Awtaad third, is the strongest form on view.
Although the ground is steadily drying out it will still be on the softish side for Time Test, course and distance winner over Western Hymn in the BetVictor Brigadier Gerard Stakes in May.
My Dream Boat also holds a verdict over Western Hymn at Sandown in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes in April and displayed a good attitude to run down Found in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the royal meeting. I doubt Found is in the same league as stablemate The Gurkha.
BRANDO (2.00) went down with flying colours at Royal Ascot, being nailed only in the final strides by Outback Traveller in the Wokingham Stakes, and he can go one better in the Coral Charge.
Kevin Ryan’s sprinter hit the front fully a furlong out so the drop to the minimum trip shouldn’t present a problem. Brando enjoys cut underfoot and stall eight isn’t too bad a draw. With plenty of speed around him, Tom Eaves is likely to settle Brando in a handy pitch just off the pace.
William Knight has his string in terrific nick and SECRET ART (2.35) at odds of 20-1 is worth an each-way investment if all 16 runners stand their ground in the Coral Challenge.
Stall four is a perfect post position and although Secret Art has a few lengths to make up on course and distance conqueror Mutamakkin, the combination of a weight pull plus a return to his favoured
easier ground will make things tighter. Secret Art’s last success came at Newmarket on good to soft ground and he races off only a pound higher rating.
Mutamakkin is a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver and the ante-post favourite looks sure to be involved.
SHARAAKAH (3.10) must go close in the Coral Distaff if able to reproduce her run in the Sandringham Handicap when third to Persuasive. Racing from 3lb out of the handicap and returning from a 250-day absence, Ed Dunlop’s filly ran a cracker and may edge out John Gosden’s highly-regarded Snow Moon, slightly disappointing over a longer trip at Newbury last time.
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