Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action at Sandown.
Euginio is a tough and consistent sort who is coming off a career best second in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot, so he deserves to be favourite for the 1m2f Listed contest on the card.
But he may again have to settle for minor honours as Sir Michael Stoute’s MUSTASHRY improved into a Group performer last season, winning the Strensall Stakes (1m1f) at the Ebor meeting in good style, and there could be more to come this term as he is just the type of older horse with which his master trainer excels. He lacks a run this term, which is the only slight concern, but I doubt Sir Michael would bring him here undercooked and the stable is firing on all cylinders besides.
There are three last-time-out winners in the field for the 1m1f209y handicap and Alfarris, who beat a subsequent winner to score on his seasonal debut a fortnight ago, may do best of the trio.
But I’m drawn more to one at the bottom of the weights, the Ian Williams-trained BLUE LAUREATE, who is better than his form figures of ‘5007’ would suggest. Formerly with Clive Cox at two and then racing for Doug Watson in Dubai earlier this year, he caught the eye when making his stable debut here 20 days ago over a furlong less, hitting the line hard having sat last for much of the way. The form of that race is working out well – the second, third and eighth have all won since – and the selection is entitled to strip fitter here given he’d been off for 107 days. Off what looks a winning mark and with today’s slightly longer trip expected to suit, he should give us a good run for our money.
Ed Walker’s excellent run of form is showing no signs of stopping with Iconic Knight making it seven winners from 24 runners (29%) in the last fortnight at Newbury yesterday. That serves to highlight the chances of his DARK PEARL who is his sole representative at the track in the 1m6f handicap. The four-year-old has a serious chance on form too having run a cracking second over this course and distance 20 days ago, when just pipped at the post by the well handicapped Vis A Vis. That effort is even more creditable when you consider he raced keenly and if settling a bit better here – he has the right man for the job in Jamie Spencer – he’s going to be hard to beat.
Zeelander was turned over at odds-on last time and is up another 4lb, which leaves him with top weight to carry, but Roger Varian’s charge is still feared most of his five rivals.
All odds were correct at time of posting.