On a mixed weekend of action at Sandown, the Flat takes precedence on Friday before the Jumps Finale is staged on Saturday.
In the Gordon Richards Stakes, Anmaat is a big threat to the returning Adayar and both may win Group 1’s this season. Anmaat has to give 5lbs away too, so his performance is of particular interest as he begins his season.
We begin with an improving handicapper in the Esher Cup.
Friday 28th April 2023
1.50 Sandown (Esher Cup Handicap) – LOCAL DYNASTY
Taking a very short price about Godolphin’s Local Dynasty may not seem the wisest move, but as long as Charlie Appleby’s runner in the Esher Cup is a backable price he’s worth it.
His form last season was progressive, impressive and was achieved on varying ground conditions including soft. He is Listed winner and would have been a more impressive one had he not had to see out a tough mile at Pontefract on his fourth start in two months. Fresh now, he can reach a new level.
Legend Of Leros is interesting, while Physique looked a decent animal when starting off last year and is higher up the shortlist than Saxon King who doesn’t look value.
3.00 Sandown (bet365 Mile – Group 2) – MUTASAABEQ
This is another good renewal of the Group 2 Sandown Mile. Potapova is somewhat of a mystery but she has real quality and gets 3lbs from the boys. Checkandchallenge, Imperial Fighter, Migration and Angel Bleu are all solid too.
Light Infantry is the one for money. He’s returned from a stint in Australia and is a Group 1 runner-up. He’ll be tough to beat, but even with a 3lb penalty Mutasaabeq looks good value.
He handles this ground and has looked classy from day one. He may yet land a Group 1 and let’s not forget that the Charlie Hills team said from the start this year that they would be targeting the Lockinge as they feel he is at the right level.
3.35 Sandown (Classic Trial – Group 3) – FLYING HONOURS
The all-important Sandown Classic Trial can offer us some major Derby clues. This is the race Adayar was an eye-catching runner-up in two years ago in fact before scoring at Epsom.
The potential improvers are Circle Of Fire and Relentless Voyager and neither can be confidently discounted. Salt Bay was third in a French Group 1 on only his second start too which is obviously good form.
Arrest, of the Gosden yard, was also placed last season in a French Group 1 and is the likely favourite in the race. His profile is solid and there should be more improvement to come, but he has already had to show us what he’s worth while there is highly likely to be much more to come from Flying Honours.
Charlie Appleby’s runner has strong form already having followed to easy novice wins with a success in the Zetland over 1¼ miles. In between, he was odds-on to win the Royal Lodge (Group 2) too.
He’s a Sea The Stars who should cope better than most with conditions at Sandown and he’s also a shorter price for the Derby than Arrest which may tell a story.
4.00 Doncaster (Handicap) – WESTERTON
This is a one-and-a-quarter-mile handicap for the three-year-olds and as such, there are improvers in the field. The one with the most potential though is Alan King’s Westerton.
Although he hasn’t won in three, he’s shown a very good level of form for a horse rated 82 and he’s now been gelded. He looks capable of reaching a mark close to triple figures soon so should be very well in. David Probert rides.
4.10 Sandown (Fillies’ Novice Stakes) – QUEEN OF FAIRIES
This is the race Emily Upjohn won last year and it now offers automatic entry to the Oaks for the winner. We can guarantee that fact will make this a quality race featuring some exciting fillies.
The four key contenders Infinite Cosmos, Queen Of Fairies, Sumo Sam and Tarjamah have each run once so far.
Tarjamah (J&T Gosden) ran similarly to Emily Upjohn on debut. It’s also worth remembering before this “win and you’re in” affair that Gosden and Aidan O’Brien between them have won the last 9 Oaks at Epsom.
The one for money is Sir Michael Stoute’s Infinite Cosmos. She was promising on debut, will improve plenty and gets fully 6lbs from the others but she was ultimately beaten while Queen Of Fairies won with ease.
Their performances were so similar, other than we don’t know how much more Queen Of Fairies could have produced if needed and so she gets the vote at a nicer price than the favourite.
Saturday 29th April 2023
2.15 Sandown (bet365 Gold Cup – Premier Handicap Chase) – REVELS HILL
Scottish Grand National winner Kitty’s Light makes a quick and interesting reappearance, while the Goffer’s Cheltenham form and that of Coolvalla are of interest. That said, Revels Hill is on the up, is on a nice weight and has the experience and stamina to be shown to best effect in this £160,000 race.
3.05 Leicester (King Richard III Cup Handicap) – AL MUBHIR
William Haggas’ one-time 2000 Guineas hope and Lincoln favourite Al Mubhir gets another chance to show what he can do.
He has shown flashes of very good talent and, though he didn’t quite get home as well as expected when fourth on heavy ground in the Lincoln, he can shape better here. Newcastle winner Notre Belle Bete is interesting back in a handicap too.
4.20 Haydock (Handicap) – CONSERVATIONIST
This is a Class 3 event, run over the mile. Back last autumn Clive Cox’s Conservationist was, quite rightly after her second run, sent off second-favourite for the Listed Montrose Stakes at Newmarket.
She just flattened out after attempting to make all that day in a race which includes hot 1000 Guineas prospect Dream Of Love.
She gets in here off just 84 and we know already that she’s way better than that. Rossa Ryan takes the ride.