Brigadier Gerard night at Sandown is always the best evening meeting of the year and we have four selections for punters to go to war with.
It’s Brigadier Gerard evening at Sandown and the two Group races on the card, not to mention the National Stakes for juveniles, are extremely high quality renewals.
The ground is set to be good to firm and the fast conditions have already claimed one casualty in Tullius, with the withdrawal of this soft-ground lover reducing the field for the feature Brigadier Gerard Stakes (due off 7.45pm) down to five. I think we can discount 40/1 rag Niceofyoutotellme on all known form, which leaves us with just four to choose from, and I’m not convinced there is enough juice in the ground for Gordon Richards Stakes winner Western Hymn, so I’m putting a line through him too.
With Eagle Top seemingly using the race as a prep for Royal Ascot and likely to need the run after 306 days off, it looks a straight fight out between Arab Spring and Trysted. The bookies see it that way too with the pair disputing favouritism at around the 2/1 mark. At those prices, I’m quite happy to sit this one out betting-wise, though ARAB SPRING has to be the selection. He is better known as a 1m4f performer, but I reckon he’ll cope with the drop in trip as he’s not short of speed and travels strongly. Ryan Moore won’t be hanging around on him and will be wary of the finishing kick of Tryster, who is running over his ideal trip. Whether he can translate his smart all-weather form to turf is another matter, and the selection can give his trainer Sir Michael Stoute a remarkable eighth success in this race. If he edges out to 5/2 – Paddy Power’s 2/1 is the best currently – I’ll be jumping on.
The Henry VIII Stakes (7.10pm) over an extended 2m has a more appealing betting shape to it and I’m hoping for 5/2 on Hughie Morrison’s VENT DE FORCE. He surprised his trainer a little when finishing second in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on his reappearance as he was considered to be short of work, so the performance bodes well for his chances tonight. Described by his trainer as a ” in, raw horse” last season, it was to his credit he still managed to win three times, including the prestigious Melrose Handicap at the Ebor meeting. He’s far better than a handicapper and is likely to run in the Ascot Gold Cup next, depending on how he gets on here. A strong stayer who bounces of fast ground and it’s worth noting that seven Henry II winners finished either first or second in that Ascot Group 3.
With Simenon using this as a prep for the royal meeting, the main danger looks to be Chester Cup winner Trip To Paris. He’s undoubtedly improving and could make his mark at the highest level, though he’d be the first horse to do the Chester-Sandown double and any value in his price has disappeared after he was ‘Pricewised’.
I’m looking forward to the return of CONSORT in the Listed Heron Stakes (8.15pm) as was very impressive when landing his sole start to date at Newmarket last September and he could be anything. The 5/2 on offer with Paddy Power is very tempting as he’s potentially a Group 1 performer and appeared to relish a fast surface when winning at HQ.
The 5f National Stakes (6.35pm) is undoubtedly the best two-year-old race run in Britain so far and I’m struggling to see past Godolphin’s STEADY PACE after his impressive debit success at Ascot earlier this month. Form at that track usually holds up well here and it was boosted when the third King Of Rooks, who re-opposes, won a Newbury maiden on his next start by six lengths. With his ability to act on fast ground proven, the selection should prove hard to beat and, while the bookies agree and go a best-priced 9/4, that’s no real reason to desert him.
All of tonight’s selections are at skinny prices and any punters looking to get involved without risking a fortune might want to consider combining them in six doubles and four trebles with Paddy Power (who are either top or joint-top price) – an accumulator would just be plain greedy, or would it?