What are the best bets at Haydock and Sandown on Saturday?
The Coral-Eclipse, won last year by Derby winner and subsequent Arc hero Golden Horn, is the Group 1 feature at Sandown, while the Lancashire Oaks and Old Newton Cup form the basis of a competitive card at Haydock. If you’re having a bet – and why not?! – our racing expert has marked your card.
13:45 Haydock – bet365 Handicap, 1m2f95y
Threat Assessed had Wild Hacked just over one and a half lengths back in third when scoring at Sandown last month and the latter could reverse the form on today’s better terms. But bookmakers look to have the pair covered – bet365 make them 9/4 joint favourites – and it could be worth taking a chance on the lightly-raced NAVAJO WAR DANCE at the same firm’s 5/1. Karl Burke’s charge led to just before the two furlong pole in the 1m4f King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and will be suited by dropping back to 1m2f, a trip he won over previously at Ayr off just 4lb lower. Likely to be ridden positively, he might be able to slip the field from the front in the heavy conditions.
14:00 Sandown – Coral Charge (Registered As The Sprint Stakes) (Group 3), 5f6y
There is a good turnout of 13 for this Group 3 and there are some familiar sprinters amongst them. Spirit Quartz and Monsieur Joe at eight and nine respectively represent the older brigade and both arrive here on the back of victories. However, they are probably just below this level and BRANDO, a relative youngster at four, is taken to improve past them. Kevin Ryan’s charge was useful at three and has taken his form to another level this year. A winner at Newmarket (5f, good to soft) on his reappearance, he has finished a close second the last twice, including in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot last time behind Outback Traveller. He was perhaps a little unlucky not to score on that occasion as, having raced into the centre group, he found himself isolated when those in front dropped away early. But he was battling on again at the finish to be beaten just a head and this stiff 5f on ‘good to soft’ should suit him well. He won’t get many better chances to win in Group company and Betway’s 5/2 is standout.
14:15 Haydock – bet365 Lancashire Oaks (Fillies’ Group 2), 1m3f200y
Bookmakers have installed Charlie Appleby’s Endless Time as favourite around the 3/1 mark and that’s understandable as she was most progressive last season when winning four of her five starts, three of which came over this trip. However, she will surely be better for her comeback run and I’m not sure she wants the ground this soft, having stretched out well on fast terrain on her final two starts of 2015. Let’s take her on with German raider NIGHTFLOWER who is the highest-rated runner in the race courtesy of her 1m4f Group 1 success on native soil last September, when the ground was riding very deep. She escapes a penalty for that success here due to the race conditions and the fact she has travelled over is a tip in itself, with her trainer Peter Schiergen boasting a 1-3 record at this track. Take bet365’s 5/1.
14:35 Sandown – Coral Challenge (Handicap), 1m14y
Mutamakkin appeared to appreciate this trip when winning at the track last time, having not stayed 1m1f previously, and Sir Michael Stoute’s improver should remain competitive off his new rating of 96. He looks a worthy favourite at around the 5/1 mark, but I’d rather take a flyer on FIRE SHIP at a tasty 16/1 with Sky Bet. The seven-year-old hasn’t won since his four-year-old days – a 1m Group 3 at Deauville (good to soft) – but he wasn’t beaten far by Top Notch Tonto in a York Listed race at this time last year and has gradually been finding his form this season, finishing a fair sixth in a class 2 handicap last time. The handicapper has dropped him another 2lb since, meaning he’s now a whopping 27lb lower than his peak rating, and the application of a first-time visor might just be the persuader needs to take advantage. With his trainer William Knight in excellent form (three winners from his last seven runners), we really shouldn’t be too surprised if he pops up here, though an each-way bet is advised.
14:50 Haydock – bet365 Old Newton Cup (Heritage Handicap), 1m3f200y
A typically competitive renewal of this historic handicap and plenty can be fancied. The temptation is to find one at a price and PENGLAI PAVILION makes plenty of appeal at Betway’s 12/1 having run well for a long way behind Jennies Jewel at Royal Ascot, where he simply didn’t stay the 2m4f trip. A three-time winner over hurdles when with John Ferguson’s last winter, he looks to be on a good mark in this sphere, being rated 24lb below his peak, and the forecast heavy ground won’t bother him one bit as he won on such a surface when trained in France. He will be finishing better than most of his rivals, several of whom are doubtful stayers in the testing conditions, but that doesn’t apply to David Simcock’s rapidly improving Desert Encounter. He stays at least 1m6f, will handle the ground and is worth a saver at the sponsors’ 6/1.
15:10 Sandown – Coral Distaff (Fillies’ Listed), 1m14y
Several of these have their best days ahead of them, but only John Gosden’s SNOW MOON has a Group 1 entry later in the season and she can be forgiven an odds-on defeat last time. Having won impressively on her reappearance at Nottingham, she was sent off at 10/11 to follow up in a Newbury Listed contest, but she raced keenly caught wide early and then her rider dropped her too far back off a slow pace, forfeiting ground to the eventual winner Abingdon. The second foal of Oaks/Irish Oaks winner Sariska, she deserves another chance to show her true potential and her trainer won this contest in 2014 with Belle D’Or. Take Coral’s 7/2.
15:45 Sandown – Coral-Eclipse (British Champions Series) (Group 1), 1m2f7y
A fascinating renewal of a Group 1 race that is usually the first chance in the season for top-class three-year-olds to take on their elders. The Classic generation have struggled in more recent times, as evidenced by a 2-22 record in the last ten runnings, and the two winners (Golden Horn and Sea The Stars) were exceptional. Aidan O’Brien’s The Gurkha is one of three from that age group lining up and the market suggests he’s got the best chance of improving that poor record. Indeed, he has been backed as if defeat was out of the question since being declared earlier in the week, with most firms now going a shade of odds-on. He only made his debut in April (third) and has quickly established himself as a top miler with a convincing success in the French 2000 Guineas and was then perhaps given too much to do when splitting Galileo Gold and Awtaad in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot. Ryan Moore will be keen to make amends here, though he won’t be committing too early given his mount is stepping up in trip and has his stamina to prove.
However, he’s up against a top-notch four-year-old in Roger Charlton’s TIME TEST and he’s taken to strike another blow for the older generation. The son of Dubawi quickly progressed into a smart 1m2f performer last summer, culminating in a Group 2 success at Newmarket in September, and he did well to reel in the reopposing Western Hymn when making his comeback over track and trip in May given he looked in need of the run and was giving the runner-up 5lb. His trainer has compared him favourably with Al Kazeem, who won the 2013 renewal for the stable, and he will have been pleased to see the ground dry out to ‘good to soft’ as his charge skipped Royal Ascot on account of very soft going. Good ground or faster would have been ideal, but he’ll handle conditions at a course he clearly likes and that earns him the vote at Paddy Power’s 7/2, providing conditions don’t deteriorate.
Of the rest, you’ve got to respect My Dream Boat after he produced a career-best effort to land the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, when showing his appreciation for cut in the ground. Clive Cox’s four-year-old seems to be getting better with experience, will again have his conditions and is a previous winner at this track, so he’s not discounted lightly. Godolphin took the decision to supplement Hawkbill after he completed a five-timer in the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot and, while another step forward is required here, he’s not out of it by any means.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner in any of the above Channel 4-televised races at 4/1 or bigger with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.