Sandown’s Thursday evening card is always an enjoyable watch, as the Surrey course hosts the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes. We have selections in all six races during the meeting, alongside Matchbook, with whom you can earn up to £50 in Free Bets for Royal Ascot.
Eton Blue (5.40 Sandown) 7.2 with Matchbook
The opener at Sandown can be won by a trainer local to the track in George Baker.
His ETON BLUE won on his reappearance before a respectable third-placed effort over the same course and distance at Windsor next time out. However, that run can probably be upgraded further, as he may well have got to the front too soon when sent off 6/4 favourite.
He idled having hit the lead in the final two furlongs before being overhauled by the opposing Wonder Starelzaam, who is currently the market leader for this contest. That said, there is a 4lb swing in the selection’s favour and a lot more might go right for him this time.
Eton Blue stays up to 1m4f, so a decent pace to aim at, as well as more patient tactics, can combine to see him strike.
Tajalla (6.15 Sandown) 2.02 with Matchbook
Roger Varian’s two-year-old made an impression that few juveniles have matched so far this season when winning at Newmarket last month.
The son of another speedy youngster in Kessaar, TAJALLA looked very talented in that 5f maiden. Once asked to quicken by Andrea Atzeni after entering the dip on the Rowley Mile, he did so rapidly, kicking clear of a next-time-out winner in Fragrance.
He did not look to have demonstrated the full range of his ability that day and so there should remain more to come. He looked to possess enormous speed, which is absolutely ideal for Sandown’s straight 5f.
Irish raider Crispy Cat only failed by the barest margin to win Ireland’s first Listed race for two-year-olds recently and is likely to be a big danger, but Tajalla can prove beyond that standard.
Quickthorn (6.50 Sandown) 4.2 with Matchbook
There is very little to split QUICKTHORN and Enemy and so the percentage play may be the former at slightly longer odds.
The rest of the field are either unproven at the trip, or have tried often enough to be discarded against this more promising duo. Enemy had spent the majority of his career at around 1m, but Ian Williams sent him right up in trip at Meydan and he improved significantly.
Having been a useful handicapper below Group level for both John Gosden and Francis-Henri Graffard, he has developed greatly for Williams. However, that rate of improvement has been matched by Quickthorn for Hughie Morrison.
Rated 84 at the start of last season, he won a pair of handicaps over 1m4f, but was then second in the Ebor off 103. This term, after not being able to challenge in Group company, he has improved for running on decent surfaces over 1m6f and 2m, most notably in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot last time out.
He was slightly ahead of Enemy, who had admittedly been shortened up by the winner of that race, Princess Zoe, but there would have been very little to choose between them anyway. Quickthorn was finishing the stronger and may benefit from a likely decent pace set by Thunderous here.
Mostahdaf (7.25 Sandown) 2.22 with Matchbook
The Brigadier Gerard field can be split into three separate pairs this year: the Godolphin/Saeed Bin Suroor duo of Dubai Future and Passion And Glory, the old boys’ club of Addeybb and Lord Glitters, and the up-and-coming two of Bay Bridge and MOSTAHDAF.
The first pair do merit mention despite being outsiders. Dubai Future was a ready winner of a Listed race in Dubai in January, but his preference is likely for further than this. On the other hand, his stablemate, Passion and Glory, has done most of his winning at around this trip and in this country, so it is bizarre he is such a big price.
Experienced campaigners Addeybb and Lord Glitters may not be the easiest to trust in their advancing years now, so the final pair are preferred. Bay Bridge will be worth watching throughout the season for Sir Michael Stoute, but Mostahdaf’s strike rate is particularly notable.
He has won six out of seven in his career and won readily on his reappearance over course and distance. Though the Gordon Richards Stakes only had three runners, he still did the business impressively and could develop into a Group 1 horse this term.
Lyndon B (8.00 Sandown) 24 with Matchbook
Barring late withdrawals, eight runners are set to go to post, which always makes it tempting to side with an each-way shot.
With none of his more fancied rivals jumping right off the page, LYNDON B, a previous course and distance winner, is worth siding with as the rank outsider. His lifeless return may have alarmed some, but a look back at his form when fresh should allay some fears.
Apart from on debut, and in his second season, where he finished second after a layoff, his form after racecourse breaks is woeful. After those of ten weeks or more, his formbook reads 80099, with the two “0”s and the second “9” also representing him finishing stone last.
He often needs at least one run to get going, and while this may be another occasion where he is still steadily rebuilding his fitness, he should still be much fitter than on that return last month. On other form, he should be nowhere near the price he is, as he was second off this mark of 93 to conclude last season and won off just 1lb lower in July.
Destiny Queen (8.35 Sandown) 8.2 with Matchbook
This three-year-old handicap is unusual in that the top-weight is also the least experienced in the field in DESTINY QUEEN.
However, the filly and daughter of Al Wukair is taken to bookend the meeting for George Baker. Her two runs have both been very promising, hence her mark, with many of her more exposed rivals having built their marks up already through handicaps.
Meanwhile, Destiny Queen was a winner on her debut at Ascot, winning a novice event by two lengths over 7f. She followed that up with a fourth-placed finish over 1m under a 6lb penalty against all of her rivals.
That proved a strong race, though, with the winner and runner-up now rated 99 and 98, 19 and 18lb above Destiny Queen’s rating respectively. Yet she was only beaten five lengths conceding the pair 6lb, which could leave her loads of room for improvement from this rating.
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