What are the best bets at Sandown this evening?
There are five British meetings to bet on today but it’s all about Sandown’s six-race card that gets underway at 6.00pm, with a couple of group races, a pair of Listed events and two competitive handicaps on offer – it’s easily the best evening meeting of the entire season. Here are my thoughts on the proceedings.
18:00 Marbank Construction Handicap, 1m2f7y
A low-grade handicap to start things off and it can go to the Gary Moore-trained TOP DIKTAT, who is just 1lb higher than when beating 14 rivals at Nottingham last November and was not beaten far into fifth at Windsor last time. That run can be upgraded too as he was held up in a slowly run race that suited those horses ridden more prominently and his trainer clearly means business this evening by booking Ryan Moore, who has won on him three times previously. Betfair is the place to go to back him as they’re a standout 5/1.
18:35 BetVictor Million Pound Goal National Stakes (Listed), 5f6y
The Richard Hannon stable has win six of the last nine runnings of this Listed contest and MEHMAS, their only representative after the scratching of Tomily, can make it 7-10 under Frankie Dettori. The son of Acclamation is unbeaten after two starts, including when slamming a decent field over 6f at Newbury last time, arguably the best performance by a British-trained juvenile so far this season, and he should have no trouble dropping back to this stiff 5f. He looks an ideal type for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and he can go there with his unbeaten record intact. Hills are one of several firms offering 6/5. Mark Johnston’s Chupalla may chase him home, ahead of Global Applause.
19:05 BetVictor Henry II Stakes (Group 3), 2m78y
This race revolves around the Willie Mullins-trained MAX DYNAMITE (4/5 Hills), who is the clear form choice on his three Flat efforts last season and almost certainly has more improvement in him as a stayer. After his second in the Northumberland Plate last June, he ran away with York’s Lonsdale Cup before being shipped to Australia and finishing an unlucky half-length runner-up in the Melbourne Cup – he would surely have won the race that stops a nation with a clear run. He’s likely to need his first run back but, even so, he should take care of four inferior rivals (albeit at odds-on) to set himself up for a crack at the Ascot Gold Cup, for which he’s a best-priced 8/1 (Coral).
19:40 BetVictor Brigadier Gerard Stakes (Group 3), 1m2f7y
Roger Varian’s Intilaaq is far better than he showed when only eighth in the Dubai Turf on his March reappearance and is likely to improve as the season progresses. However, the forecast good ground might not be quite as fast as he likes and, given his skinny odds of 13/8, I’m going to take him on with John Gosden’s WESTERN HYMN, who runs his best races here and is value at bet365’s 4/1. He found the short Chester straight against him when beaten a length by the smart Cannock Chase last time out – still a cracking effort – and will have more time to wind up his effort this evening on a track where his form figures read 11132, with one of his successes coming in last season’s renewal. He escapes any sort of penalty here and that can’t be said of Roger Charlton’s Time Test, who might need his first run back besides.
20:15 Heron Stakes (Listed), 1m14y
Zonderland was far from disgraced when sixth in the 2000 Guineas but he’s probably not top class class, whereas his two main rivals, Royal Artillery and FORGE (9/4 Hills), might just turn out to be and both have Group 1 entries later this season to suggest that. The latter is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who knows a top class horse when he sees one, and it’s significant that he is using this contest to further the career of his impressive Doncaster maiden winner. The Newmarket handler has three wins and a place to show from his five runners since 2006, with a grand total of ten wins since 1980, and the selection can add his name to that list before tackling Group company.
20:45 MET Traders Handicap, 1m14y
Jacob Black, who has been chalked up as the early 4/1 favourite, is 6lb higher than when winning over track and trip last May, while second favourite Jailawi only scraped home in a Lingfield handicap last time and is on a career-high mark. They are opposable and I’m looking no further than HEATSTROKE for the winner. Charlie Hills’ runner has a 582-day absence to overcome but he’s done plenty of work according to the trainer and this brother to Group winners The Corsican and Deauville is likely to prove far better than a handicapper in time, with his entry in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes evidence of that. Take the 7/1 on offer with Paddy Power.