3.35 Sandown: Eclipse Stakes, 1m 2f
The race promised so much at the beginning of the week. It has significantly lost in excitement with the loss of some key horses that were expected to run and now go somewhere else for supposedly easier options.
It’s still a good race with six proper thoroughbreds going head to head. Let’s not forget only a few weeks ago Bay Bridge was thought to be the next coming of baby Jesus.
Today he’s a 7/2 shot. I was tempted for a moment when even bigger yesterday afternoon, but can’t get over the fact that his Sandown performance is simply overrated in my view, given the better horses that day weren’t fully tuned up most likely.
Even if taking the performance at face value he achieved a 102 topspeed rating – although it’s not unreasonable to assume he could have ran a bit faster – is far from the best on offer in this field today. He also had every chance at Ascot in my view and failed.
Mishriff is the highest rated horse in the race and a proper star. He’s only returning from a break, though. I doubt the test today, given how the race is likely to pan out, will suit.
Alenquer produced a career best at the Curragh. I rate that performance highly. He could be underestimated today again and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I do wonder about a possibly slow pace for him, though. On fast ground it counts against him.
The two most likely to fight it out in my view are the three-year-olds. Superstar juvenile Native Trail has done little wrong this season . I don’t understand the perception that he is not as good a three-year-old as he was a juvenile when he clearly is. He simply meets stiffer competition this year.
He still impresses me, I must say. His Newmarket performance can be marked up for a variety of reason but he was the best horse in the race in my view and simply unlucky the way the race developed.
He put things right at the Curragh. It wasn’t a flashy performance but he did it in the upmost professional manner. He’s given enough indication to believe a step up in trip can work.
How is the fast ground to suit today? And what about the pace? He can take a bit of time to get going. Not ideal in what shapes like a muddling affair.
It’s the conundrum of the day: pace. Or a lack of it. Who is going to do the donkey work? Most if not all of these want to have something to chase after. This will be a sprint finish.
As unoriginally as it is, the fastest horse is French Derby winner Vadeni. His 109 topspeed rating from Chantilly rates even higher given he was nearly pulled up half a furlong from home.
He’s got a proper turn of foot, can quicken off a slowish pace, and looks a thoroughly uncomplicated ride. The fast ground is the one worry I have. It’s new to him. There’s a significant difference between French good ground (as connections called the PDJC ground) and Sandown fast.
But with the 3-year-old weight allowance in addition to the possibility of more improvement, I can’t look past him, especially at a price that should be probably a point shorter I think.
10pts win – Vadeni @ 9/4
1.50 Sandown: Group 3 Coral Charge, 5f
Equilateral is the a clear top rated choice on any measure for me. The bounce factor is a question mark, however that is already more than reflected in the price. If he’s fine after a huge effort at Royal Ascot and gets a clear run I can’t see him getting beaten.
Equilateral returned from a long lay-off in the King’s Stand Stakes. He travelled beautifully through the race, tracked Nature Strip from over two furlongs out and naturally failed to match the superstar sprinter. He finished a highly credible 5th, though.
That performance was worth a 102 topspeed rating. Just another one in the list of 100+ performances he produced in this career. He looks still strong and fast on the basis of this run and is considerably overpriced.
10pts win – Equilateral @ 11/2
2.25 Sandown: Class 2 Handicap, 1m
It pains me that I can’t back Checkandchallenge because I was really keen on him after his eye-catching Guineas run that was much better than the bare form suggested. I absolutely loved his Newcastle victory too.
At 4/1 on properly fast ground I can’t have him off 108, though. He may be too good and can overcome it, but I have the impression the fast ground won’t be to his advantage.
There is one alternative I have been tracking the whole year already: Trais Fluors. Admittedly the latest Windsor performance has given me pause for thought and I am a little less excited to jump on board. He looked laboured that day. So a clear risk to back when backing him today: what’s his form?
However, the positives outweigh the risks in an open race where he’s certainly handicapped to go close if he finds back to the form previously shown in three runs this season.
He caught the eye on all three of those runs. Desperately unlucky at Thirsk, not a clear passage on his seasonal debut at Newbury before and he made a huge impression from off the pace dominated by those up or closer to it at Redcar, finishing the second half of the race the fastest.
Down to a mark of 85 he’s given a proper chance. He won last summer over course and distance on fast ground off 92. He ran to topspeed 91 that day.
Back at Sandown with De Sousa in the saddle he has a good chance to outrun his price. Whether that’s good enough to win in this hot contest remains to be seen. He needs a bit of “luck” from off the pace. I have him a better shot nonetheless to deliver today.
10pts win – Trais Fluors @ 10/1
6.50 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Twice Adaay has been knocking on the door a couple of times this season over 6 furlongs. She caught my eye in May at Ripon when she moved forward into a prominent position after slightly sluggish start. She lost her position before the two furlong marker as she got behind a wall of horses. She was short of room over one furlong from home again, but finished well enough and easy on the eye.
The drop to the minimum trip is sure to suit, especially with rain forecast. Her best performances came over five furlongs with cut in the ground, so conditions will be perfect.
She is down to a mark off 55, a single pound above her last (and only) winning mark when she took a 5 furlong contest at Beverley last July. She seems to give her best running also on these slightly tricky specialist tracks, as she possesses good balance and should enjoy Carlisle in the rain.
Having ran to topspeeds of 58 (on fibresand though), 56 and 54 on turf, she is reasonably well handicapped, with 5lb claiming Laura Coughlin offering additional assistance.
10pts win – Twice Adaay @ 8/1
7.00 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Lightly-raced Bibulous makes plenty of appeal here, even though I envision he might be even better over an additional furlong. I still believe even over 6 furlongs he can be better handicapped than the current mark, and his recent finish at Chepstow is a good indication for this notion.
The June race was his seasonal reappearance after a light campaign as a three-year-old with only three runs including an impressive victory at Kempton over 6 furlongs.
At Chepstow he travelled at the rear of the field after a restrained start. He looked to go pretty well, was eventually switched to the stands’ side over two furlongs out where he started his run home. He didn’t have an instant change of gear but it also appeared he didn’t quite enjoy the undulations and especially downhill portion of the course.
However once balanced he rattled home much the strongest suggesting that there’s more to come on a slightly more conventional straight sprint course. He remains on the same 68 handicap mark, which is more than fair I reckon. He already ran to a 67 topspeed last season. Any improvement will see him hard to beat.
10pts win – Bibulous @ 5/1