Our racing expert marks your card for Thursday evening's action at Sandown.
Clive Cox’s HEARTWARMING, a half-sister to the same stable’s Heartache, the winner of the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot at two, is making her racecourse debut in the opening fillies’ novice and, like her older sibling, she may well be able to go in at the first time of asking and reward favourite backers in the process.
The stayers’ handicap over 1m6f looks competitive but one that catches the eye off bottom weight is David Simcock’s HIGHLAND SKY and he’s an each-way price too. With plenty of talented staying siblings in his pedigree, he was expected to improve for the step up to this trip at Redcar nine days ago and so it proved as he ran a career-best third. That effort can be marked up too as he got going all too late having been given a lot to do and meeting with trouble in the home straight. While this is a better race, he might do better still for a more positive ride, with Kieren O’Neill now taking the reigns, and he’s surely much better than his current mark of 67.
George Villiers is a warm favourite for the 1m handicap and that’s understandable as he represents John Gosden and is potentially well treated on a mark of 81 for this handicap debut, having beaten a horse now rated 92 in a Kempton maiden when last seen out in November.
However, he faces no easy task in giving 2lb to the race-fit MASHAHEER, who created a big impression when scoring on his seasonal reappearance at Nottingham. Looking like the run would bring him on, the William Haggas-trained three-year-old only had to be pushed out for a comfortable success to put behind him some disappointing efforts as a juvenile. Clearly, a winter gelding operation has done him the power of good and there should be more to come from him over this trip off what looks a workable mark of 79.
Corgi has been put in as favourite for the 1m2f handicap having been placed in three maidens, including when chasing home subsequent Chester Vase winner Young Rascal on his reappearance. However, he looked a hard ride when beaten as favourite at Ascot last time, hanging right and racing awkwardly when asked to challenge, and he’s therefore not for me at shortish odds.
Besides, he’s up against a couple of last-time-out winners in Desert Path and JACK REGAN, with the latter much preferred at the odds. It was only a class 5 conditions stakes that Ian Williams’ charge won at Salisbury 12 days ago but he was favourite having not had things go his way on his two previous starts, and he showed exactly why by producing a barnstorming late run from well back to clinch the spoils close home. That will have done his confidence plenty of good and he should be capable of rating a fair bit higher than his current mark of 74.
All odds were correct at time of posting.