Our racing expert marks your card for the afternoon action at Sandown.
The handicaps on the card are competitive, as you’d expect, but the two divisions of the 7f maiden look far easier to solve.
John Gosden’s ALRAJAA could only finish a never-nearer fourth of the seven runners in a novice over this track and trip on his racecourse debut last month, but there was something about that performance which marked him down as a future winner of one of these. A half-brother to three winners and well supported beforehand, he soon found himself in last place and could only make modest late progress widest of all.
Being intimidated by the eventual runner-up probably made no difference, but he will have learned plenty from that experience from that run and can be expected to come on considerably for it. He holds an entry in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and to justify that he really ought to be winning this class 5 maiden for his bang-in-form stable.
Sir Michael Stoute continues to churn out winners – he’s had eight in the last fortnight at a strike rate of 22 per cent – and ALMANIA is taken to add to his tally in the second division of the 7f maiden. Better was expected of the son of Australia on last month’s Ascot debut as he could only finish fourth of the six runners as 6/4 favourite.
However, he seemed likely to finish last after hitting a flat spot at halfway and it was to his credit that he stayed on again to finish as close as he did. A 500,000gns yearling out of a 7f juvenile winner, he’s going to be a different proposition with that run under his belt and over today’s extra furlong. A whole raft of Group race entries later in the season tell you he’s highly regarded and this ordinary maiden looks his for the taking.
A £25 double on the above selections at current bet365 odds (5/4 & 5/6) pays £103.13.
Bigger odds are available in the handicaps and while others in the 1m2f contest have stronger form claims, it could be worth taking a chance on Martin Meade’s ENDLESSLY at a price. He has finished well beaten on all three of his starts, but must have been showing something at home as he went off favourite for the first two of those and there were excuses. He patently failed to handle the dip on his Newmarket debut last November and ruined his chance by starting slowly and running green when reappearing at Kempton at the end of January.
He’s been absent since finishing fifth (of 20) at Newbury in April (1m3f) but that race has worked out well and he now goes handicapping off what could be a very good mark (73), albeit we’re having to take his fitness on trust and a market check is advised before getting involved. UPDATE – the selection is proving strong in the market, into 11/2 this morning from 8/1.
There is plenty of solid recent form on display in the 1m handicap and three of the nine runners are chasing a hat-trick, including Simon Crisford’s GLOBAL CONQUEROR, who is up in class after wins at Leicester (maiden) and Chelmsford (handicap debut). However, he’s gone up just 4lb for the latest of those to a new mark of 89 and that looks very fair given he was always in control and was value for more than his winning margin of three-quarters of a length.
Another new high this afternoon would therefore not surprise and the forecast cut in the ground is no inconvenience as he twice ran well on good to soft as a juvenile, including when not beaten far by the now 103-rated Rastrelli.
All odds were correct at time of posting.