Given that Saturday is Sandown Park’s jumps finale, the flat boys take centre stage on Friday and there are some right types coming out too. The Esher Cup, Gordon Richards Stakes, Classic Trial and bet365 Mile are all run during the afternoon with plenty of clues on offer for later in the season.
A Group 1 winner makes his return in Listed company at Leicester on Saturday too and we fancy him to score, but we begin this week with the colts attempting to put themselves in the Derby picture by taking Sandown’s Group 3 trial over a mile-and-a-quarter.
Friday 26th April
3.00 Sandown (Classic Trial – Group 3) – ALFAATIK
John Gosden isn’t afraid to run his decent three-year-olds in trials to get a proper idea of just how good they are, so Alfaatik being in this race isn’t in itself a sign that he is a potential top-notcher.
However, in winning on debut in December he did incredibly well. Very slow out of the stalls, Alfaatik ran green the whole way round at Chelmsford looking a million miles from the finished article but got up to lead a furlong out and held on well for the win.
He is by Sea The Stars whose progeny reach such a consistent level from their debut runs at 2 to this time of year, giving us a fair idea of where this Derby entrant ranks and so we can deduce he is a few pounds better than Bangkok and Persian Moon at this stage, all things being well.
3.35 Sandown (bet365 Mile) – ADDEYBB
The main concern here for most people is bound to be the fact that Addeybb is a confirmed lover of soft ground, his trainer has said as much in fact.
But, while he is bound to be even better when the rain comes, perhaps even a Group 1 winner, Addeybb is no slouch on faster going as a look at his profile suggests. Progressing to be a level above today’s opposition for sure when winning the Lincoln and indeed this race early last season, he was given time off and after a bad run at Ascot was tasked with taking on the all-weather for the first time at Lingfield last backend.
Lingfield is a quick enough track, faster than his apparent ideal conditions, yet he ran a cracker in a Listed race there when not getting much racing room and giving 7lbs to 106-rated Master The World, being beaten in the end by just a length.
He can go well in this and may win it at the expense of the improving Sharja Bridge and crack Group 2 performer Beat The Bank, as long as the latter can prove he goes well fresh of course which he didn’t do last season.
4.35 Sandown (Fillies’ Novice Stakes) – SPARKLE ROLL
King Power could yet be decent and there are a couple of noteworthy debutants in the field, however John Gosden knows his stuff with these fillies and given her progress to date it’s easy to see that there is plenty of improvement t come from Sparkle Roll and she is taken to carry this penalty to victory before moving up in grade.
She was a very comfortable winner of her novice race at Haydock in September and was then put away for the year, while it is also worth noting that as a Kingman she probably wasn’t in love with the softer going she encountered that and will appreciate conditions here much more. She is a half-sister to a Derby winner and may yet enter Oaks calculations if taking this.
The aforementioned King Power finished fifth on debut for Andrew Balding last year and is bred to be decent over middle-distances, while any money for Sea Of Faith should be noted in the run-up to the race with the William Haggas yard a real force to be reckoned with.
Saturday 27th April
2.45 Leicester (King Richard III Stakes – Listed Race) – EQTIDAAR
Having won the Group 1 Commenwealth Cup last year at Royal Ascot, we could have seen Eqtidaar come out in a Listed race and be an odds-on favourite but that is not proving to be the case at the time of writing with 2/1 available about Sir Michael Stoute’s colt.
The reason for this may be that at a glance, it seems he never puts in two good runs in a row but save for his fourth at Newbury last May when he was slowly away, it seems he has always given his all unless there have been genuine excuses which there were in the July Cup and on heavy ground in the Haydock Sprint Cup.
Having won the Commonwealth, he is a Group 1 winner who was even thought of as a type to challenge the likes of Blue Point last year but he can handle this extra furlong and so this opposition should simply not be in his class. Laugh A Minute and Hey Gaman are feared most with the ground seemingly too quick for Donjuan Triumphant.
3.15 Haydock (Fillies’ Novice Stakes) – FABULIST
Another fillies’ novice event, another John Gosden runner to note in the shape of Dubawi daughter Fabulist. She was slower than expected when making her debut at Newcastle in December, the same route Enable took of course, but nothing much was lost as she ran on for fifth and did not look fully furnished at the time.
She was then beaten at odds-on at Newbury earlier this month when the ground went completely against her, although she still managed to improve upon what she had done before and that’s to her credit.
With better ground here the Oaks entry can truly show where she is at right now and, although more is expected from them, the 7lb pull she gets from the likes of Dashed and Robotique Danseur means she should be able to take this before perhaps stepping back up in trip next time and taking on better opposition which I’m sure is the plan.