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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Punts – Top Tips for Sandown on Saturday

Sandown hosts its Eclipse meeting on Saturday, and in that race and more, Matty Sutcliffe finds your best value bets on the day.

Published: 3.05pm, Thursday, 4th July (Prices correct at time of publishing)

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1:50 Sandown – Coral Charge (Group 3) (Registered as the Sprint Stakes) (Class 1) (3yo+) – Desperate Hero 2pt WIN 6/1 

This contest is littered with exposed sorts who although on their day are quality contenders, they are prone to running below par and it might be best to side with Jack Channon’s progressive DESPERATE HERO

Progeny of Captain Gerrard tend to improve with age and that’s certainly been the case with Desperate Hero, who’s took his form to new heights in the last two runs. He made to gamely win a handicap at Goodwood in May, producing his first RPR over 100, and the form’s worked out well with the third taking the coveted Epsom Dash two starts later, and the fourth (Clarendon House) recorded a career best performance when winning the ever competitive Lindum York Handicap next time out, before bouncing back from a below-par effort at Epsom to comfortably take a Listed contest at Cork last time out, matching that career best RPR of 118 at York. 

He was able to back that effort up at Hamilton when bolting up by four lengths, posting a career best RPR of 115, higher than any of the horses in this contest last time out suggesting he’s more than capable to stepping up to this level. While you could argue he was always well positioned to the fore, the form has worked out tremendously well. The second (favourite) took a 39K feature race at Thirsk next time out going up 8lbs for his troubles, the third easily took a Ripon handicap next time out going up 6lbs, the fourth was second at Newcastle last weekend producing an RPR of 3lbs higher, the fifth posted a career best RPR of 90 when winning at Ayr next time out, beating a dual subsequent winner and had Aberama Gold (7th) back in fourth, the sixth was just beaten a neck last time out, the seventh was beaten a neck next time out, the ninth took a 26K handicap at Newcastle last weekend producing a joint career best RPR of 101, the eleventh was only beaten two lengths in a 52K handicap at the Curragh last time out, and the fourteenth was won twice since. 

In summary, he’s dismantled some seriously in form horses in the manner of a horse a class apart. Visually it was impressive, and the sectionals back it up. He was quick out the gates and put distance between his rivals with a 10.23sec second furlong, and kicking clear two out to produce the last two quickest furlongs. Hamilton is a notoriously stiff finish, so the fact he was able to sustain that early quick gallop and draw away from his rivals up the hill suggested he is a seriously progressive horses. That effort will stand him in good stead at Sandown, as if getting loose on the front end then his proven ability to stay on up a hill will manifest once more here. 

Coral Charge (Group 3) (Registered as the Sprint Stakes)

2:25 Sandown – Coral Challenge (Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+) – Classic 7/1 1pt WIN 

CLASSIC looked somewhat of an unlucky loser over C&D last time out, going down just a neck to the re-opposing Two Tempting who was always well positioned to the fore. The son of Dubawi was held on to for an age by Pat Dobbs in rear while the rest were already racing to the line, but once he found the gap and straightened up, he clocked the quickest sixth and final furlong, and a pound swing in the weights should be enough to reverse that form with Two Tempting should this pan out more favourably. 

He was a winner over 7F on this card last season beating the progressive Novus who’s since climbed 20lbs in the ratings, so Classic is entitled to exploit this mark of 93 at some stage and is bred to do so. He was a slow burner last season, well beaten in the Greenham Stakes and shaped as if still requiring more work in a class two at Goodwood, but his RPR’s were progressive from then onwards suggesting he needs a couple runs or so to get to peak, and now could be the time to catch him for a trainer who took this contest in 2018. 

Coral Challenge (Handicap)
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3:35 Sandown – Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+) – Stay Alert 50/1 0.5pt EW (80/1 365) 

There’s little doubt in my mind that City Of Troy is the likeliest winner here, but I don’t think it’ll be the rout many may expect as he has to prove he can adapt to this drop back in trip. With Hans Andersen declared, there’s likely to be sufficient pace on to ensure this is run at a good clip, and I’d imagine Dancing Gemini and Jayarebe will keep that pace honest in behind. With a fast gallop ensured, that will strongly play into the hands of STAY ALERT who’ll be comfortable sitting in rear and letting it all unfold. 

The likes of Dancing Gemini, Jayarebe and Ghostwriter are also stepping up into open company and would have to drastically improve to beat City Of Troy, as will Stay Alert but unlike the others, she’s already proven to have run well in open G1 company at this trip. She was unlucky not to get closer to Via Sistina in the Pretty Polly last season having been squeezed out and had momentum stopped late on, and a reproduction of that form would see her entitled to take that second spot given Via Sistina was second to the excellent King Of Steel later on in the year in the Champion Stakes. 

Her form at the trip reads 21295, the latter pair coming when beaten four lengths in the Prix de l’A Opera and then she wasn’t quite at her best under a prominent ride in the Pretty Polly last time out. The softer ground wasn’t in her favour either and she’s prone to the odd stinker, so the fact that Hughie Morrison turns her out a week later can only suggest she’s bouncing at home and while I’m under no illusion she mightn’t be beating City Of Troy, she’s massively overpriced for frame possibilities and rates a solid each way bet. 

Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series)

4:12 Sandown – Coral Racing Club Handicap (Class 4) (3yo 0-80) – Blake 2pt WIN SP 

I’ve been waiting for BLAKE to run ever since his fourth at Epsom, and it looks as if connections have found him a golden opportunity in this 0-80 company. The only niggling concern that hasn’t made this a much stronger bet is the ground, as he seemed to enjoy the softer going here over a mile on his penultimate effort. He’s a tall, leggy colt by a Pivotal mare so it’s no surprise he revelled in that going, but Sandown are forecast 5-9mm of rain Friday night going into Saturday and have watered throughout the week, so I’m hopeful that conditions won’t be too quick. 

There’s two main causes to this bet, the first one being that he did exceptionally well in the circumstances at Epsom on Derby weekend in a valuable handicap. He broke slowly in rear and was never travelling well, failing to find a pocket to settle inside and was forced to race wide throughout. He clearly detested the undulating course, hanging right off the bend but once he got himself arranged he flew home down the straight to finish fourth. The form admittedly hasn’t worked out strongly, though the winner was only beaten five lengths in a strong looking renewal of the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Ascot. 

The other factor is that he’s incredibly well handicapped on previous form. He pulled clear with Ebt’s Guard over a mile here on penultimate run, and that one won well next time out, beating a subsequent runner up in a competitive Sunday Series race at Thirsk, before bumping into a progressive sort at Yarmouth and is now rated 9lbs higher than when beaten by Blake. The 4th from that race has also won since, but an even better piece of form is when Blake bumped into Lava Stream at Doncaster in May. He was two length behind that one and pulled four lengths clear of the 3rd, and Lava Stream has since climbed 33lbs in the weighs after winning a listed fillies contest next time out before being beaten a neck in the G2 Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. 

Evidently, a mark of 79 seriously underestimates Blake and if he passes the ground test, then Billy Loughnane should have little trouble in getting him to be bang there at the finish now he’s back on a preferable track.

Coral Racing Club Handicap
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