Those punters looking for early Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe clues should cast an eye over the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sunday in which Ghaiyyath takes his chance, but closer to home there are some good value betting opportunities across Friday and Saturday starting with day one of Sandown’s classy meeting.
The winner of the Solario Stakes has traditionally gone on to be top class with recent winners including Too Darn Hot, Kingman, Fantastic a Moon and Ravens Pass, so that race has to be the main focus although we could find even more value in the fillies and mares event. Here’s the best of the action:
Friday 30th August
3.15 Sandown (Maiden Stakes) – DISCOVERY ISLAND
This really does look like your atypical notebook race; a maiden event chock full of potential with Group 1 entrants galore meaning the scouts will be out in force!
Sir Michael Stoute runs early Derby hopeful Mars Landing although he will surely be a work in progress, liable to improve over time, his stablemate My Frankel being a much more likely type for the yard on this occasion.
Regally-bred newcomers Palace Pier (John Gosden) and Lord Campari (Roger Varian) are both in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes among other things and should be forward enough to go very well on debut, but they could be up against an equally promising colt by the same sire whose experience could just make the difference on this occasion.
The horse in question is Godolphin’s Discovery Island, who was well fancied on debut at Newmarket but was just about touched-off in what looked a very hot race indeed. At the rate of improvement usually seen by Charlie Appleby’s runners on their second outing he should be good enough to see off even these good looking rivals to make his mark.
3.50 Sandown (Handicap) – MARHABAN
A small and select three-year-old handicap, one in which we should witness a resumption in improvement from Charlie Appleby’s Marhaban, a two-time winner on the all-weather at the start of the year.
This will be his second run since being gelded and he can be expected to reach a whole new level now, potentially making him well-handicapped for this race and able to beat the likes of Gin Palace, Lyndon B and Reeth who made the shortlist too.
7.45 Newcastle (Future Stayers Novice Stakes) – CAPE PALACE
This horse and the aforementioned Palace Pier (Sandown, Friday) mark the first time that Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum has had horses trained away from Mark Johnston’s yard now that they under his banner rather than Godolphin’s, and this one makes perfect sense given that he is by Golden Horn.
John Gosden’s recruit begins a long journey towards hopefully emulating his sire in next year’s Derby in this breeding restricted race, one in which he has more potential to carry 9st 5lbs on debut on standard-to-slow ground across a testing enough seven furlongs than the rest seem to have and can be backed if not going off at prohibitive odds.
Saturday 31st August
2.25 Sandown (Handicap) – COUNTRY
This looks like a decent quality mile-and-a-quarter handicap in which, at the five-day stage at least, the three-year-olds dominated entries and either way it seems that it will need to be an improving type that wins it regardless of age.
William Haggas’ Dubawi gelding Country, himself a lightly-raced 3yo owned by Sheikh Ahmed, comes into this on a four-timer having scored in good style at Redcar (twice) and Ripon, his Newmarket trainer having had two possible races this weekend to aim him at.
He’s chosen this one and I think it’s a wise move given that this taking bay seems well ahead of the handicapper at this point and should be good enough to see off both Solid Stone of Sir Michael Stoute’s and Migration of the David Menuisier yard and keep his winning sequence going.
3.00 Sandown (Atalanta Stakes – Group 3) – DUNEFLOWER
A decent renewal of this fillies and mares event, one that has been won by some very good types in the past although mostly when Sir Michael Stoute gets involved. The crack Newmarket handler this year he has decided to run Jubiloso who looks set to go off a short-priced favourite, which is fair enough given her form.
She’s a filly I really like and she’s bound to come good at this level, but on this occasion she could be overtaken by the sharply improving Duneflower who is a much more tempting price at around 5/2.
I’ve written plenty of times about the fact that John Gosden, famously very good with fillies of course, doesn’t put them up in these races unless they’ve got a serious chance and in his daughter of Dubawi he has another who can reach a new level here under Frankie Dettori.
Jubiloso is of course next best on the list, with the others looking to potentially just have too much to do.
3.35 Sandown (Solario Stakes – Group 3) – AL SUHAIL
This is a race that has been won by some very serious juveniles in the past, often also when they’ve exhibited as much stamina in their breeding and form as speed meaning that is a crucial thing to keep an eye on here as regards the main competitors.
Charlie Appleby’s Al Suhail, by Dubawi out of a Shirocco mare, has just the right profile and it’s similar to the trainer’s winner of two years ago, Masar, who of course went on to win the Derby in good style at Epsom.
A very good debut at Newmarket when runner-up was followed by a bloodless win at Yarmouth by Al Suhail and it seems he has been put spot-on for this by his excellent trainer, Clive Cox’s likely favourite Positive and Mark Johnston’s lively Visinari showing up next on the list for minor honours.