It’s Coral Eclipse day at Sandown – and we have tips for an excellent card at the Esher track, plus for two races up at Haydock.
In a race he has dominated in recent years, it is hard to look past the Aiden O’Brien trained favourite, THE GURKHA, in the feature race.
He looked a horse to follow when romping home in the French 2,000 Guineas on his penultimate start. He was given too much to do at Royal Ascot last time out, but the step up in trip here should suit him and he acts with cut in the ground. That liking for underfoot conditions should give him the edge over the classy Time Test, who also has to give the favourite an 11lbs weight for age allowance.
|The Gurkha (win)||3.45 Sandown||5/4||Bet365|
The Group 3 Coral Charge is the first big race and a surprise winner could be on the cards with plenty of these (favourite Brando apart) being out of form.
We like the three year olds, who also get an allowance here, and although Log Out Island is a threat dropped back to 5f, better value may lie with SOAPY AITKEN and WILLYTHECONQUEROR.
The former looked a two year old to follow when winning his first two starts and he ran well in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot after that. He has been short of form since, but wears blinkers for the first time and may improve for encountering soft ground. The form of his yard is the only concern, but he is a chance worth taking at rewarding odds.
Willytheconqueror definitely goes on the ground and is improving fast according to his handler. He is well drawn and ran well here last time out when the ground was faster than he would have liked. He was also a course and distance winner earlier in the season.
|Soapy Aitken (ew)||2.00 Sandown||20/1||Bet365, Coral|
|Willytheconqueror (ew)||2.00 Sandown||12/1||Bet365, Coral|
The Coral Challenge is the big handicap on the card and Godolphin’s BEST OF TIMES is very interesting dropping back in trip. He ran over 1m 2f at Royal Ascot and was collared late that day after travelling well throughout the race. He is clearly highly regarded at home as he contested a couple of Derby trials last season.
The others on the shortlist were White Lake, Fire Ship and Whitman. The first two are badly drawn, whilst the latter may just need better ground now upped to this trip, so of those at bigger prices the most solid option could be SECRET BRIEF. He has run well behind a number of these on this track on recent starts and could overturn some of that form now back on softer ground that he handles.
|Best Of Times (ew)||2.35 Sandown||11/2||Bet365, Betfred|
|Secret Brief (ew)||2.35 Sandown||16/1||Bet365|
The other race to get stuck into at Sandown is the Coral Marathon over 2m.
Hugie Morrison has his horses in rude health and FUN MAC looks the most solid of his three runners here. He had an impossible task on his seasonal debut in the Gold Cup last time out, but that should have put him spot on for this and he has Ryan Moore on board.
Bottom weight She’s No Lady is interesting on her first try at this trip, but the other one to back is SANDRO BOTTICELLI. We tipped him up at Royal Ascot on his last start and he ran okay that day when having to come from well off the pace and getting hampered at a crucial point. He can race more handily with the cheekpieces back on and is worth persevering with.
|Fun Mac (ew)||4.20 Sandown||7/1||Coral, Betfred|
|Sandro Botticelli (ew)||4.20 Sandown||12/1||Bet365, Coral|
bet365 Old Newton Cup
The Old Newton Cup dominates Haydock’s card.
It is hard to win three let alone four races on the spin as the handicapper is usually quick to get the measure of an improving performer, but DESERT ENCOUNTER races like a horse who saves something for himself and has more to offer and, as a result, is worth chancing here. He travels well in his races and Jamie Spencer is the right man to execute hold up tactics in this sort of field.
The big danger could be PENGALI PAVILION, who should relish the heavy ground. His comeback on the flat at Royal Ascot recently was encouraging and plenty of these won’t handle conditions like Godolphin’s runner. Don’t forget, he was fifth in the 2013 Arc.
|Desert Encounter (ew)||2.50 Haydock||6/1||Bet365|
|Pengali Pavilion (ew)||2.50 Haydock||12/1||Bet365|
bet365 Lancashire Oaks
The Lancashire Oaks is Haydock’s other big prize and with conditions in her favour NIGHTFLOWER should be hard to beat. The German raider ran huge races in two Group 1’s against the opposite sex last season and was only beaten 3¼ lengths in the Japan Cup on unsuitably quick ground.
Furia Cruzada and Carnachy are the threats.
|Nightflower (ew)||2.15 Haydock||9/2||Stan James|