Our racing expert is excited about backing a couple of Sandown handicap runners.
Sandown on Friday is now an all Flat card and the highlights are the Mile, the Gordon Richards Stakes and the Classic Trial – once won by Shergar.
That horse’s trainer unleashes MIDTERM in the same race (due off 2.20pm) and, while I’m not suggesting he’s even in the same league as the 1981 Derby winner, he’s undoubtedly an exciting prospect.
A beautifully bred colt – he’s by Galileo out of multiple Group 1 winner Midday – he won his maiden at Newbury last backend easily enough and has reportedly wintered well. The last horse to win on his debut for Stoute and owner Khalid Abdullah was Workforce, who went to win the 2010 Derby, and this fellow might turn out to be just as good.
But he’s hardly a betting proposition this afternoon at the available even money (Hills), though I fully expect him to win, and instead I’m going to put up a couple of handicap runners elsewhere on the card at bigger prices.
First up is the Mark Johnston-trained RIFLESCOPE who carries top weight in the 5f handicap (3.30pm). At first glance he looks up against it as, in addition to conceding weight all round, he’s up against rivals most of which have had a recent run and one in particular, the David Brown-trained Ticking Away, is chasing a hat-trick after a couple of wins on the all-weather.
However, don’t let that put you off as the selection hails from a stable firing on all cylinders, with several stablemates winning first time up, and is the subject of a very positive report from his trainer, who made him his ‘dark horse’ in a recent Stable Tour.
This is what he said: “I can’t wait to see him out. He’s an out-and-out sprinter and built like one. I don’t see him going more than six furlongs but until he’s run it’s not written in stone. He’s ready to go and looks very well.”
If that’s not a positive endorsement I don’t know what is and, moreover, he’s already won over track and trip, that coming in a Listed contest last July under today’s pilot James Doyle, who has a healthy 17% (7-42) strike rate on the stable runners. I suggest you get on today, with a view to keeping him on your side for the rest of the season with races like the Wokingham almost certainly on his agenda.
I make no apologies for using another Stable Tour as a source – they are an absolute goldmine at this early stage of the season – for the day’s second bet, the David Lanigan-trained GERSHWIN, who contests the closing 1m2f on the card (5.05pm).
Again, it looks a competitive contest and a handful of his rivals have had the benefit of a run. However, the selection gets weight from all bar one and he could be very well treated on a mark of 83 with Frankie Dettori booked. Certainly the assessor looks to have taken a kind view of his victory in a Haydock maiden last October, the form of which was boosted when the runner-up won easily on his next run.
Still green on that occasion, the son of Shamardal has reportedly “thrived” this spring and has even been working well with older stablemates – a sure sign the three-year-old is the business. This race was put up by Lanigan as his starting point and he has ambitious plans for the colt, with a possible trip to York for next month’s Dante Stakes being mentioned.
Crikey, he must be showing plenty at home to be even considered for that Derby trial and it’s interesting to note that a certain Jack Hobbs landed this race 12 months ago off a mark of 85. He made a mockery of that before going on to finish second to Golden Horn at Epsom and winning the Irish Derby on his next start. If the selection possesses just half that horse’s ability, he’s going to go very close here and I’m excited to back him at 11/2.