The ground is officially soft – good to soft in places – at Sandown this afternoon for their seven-race card. The meetings are relatively low-key this weekend with Royal Ascot – the highlight of the flat season – starting on Tuesday.
In the opening Scurry Stakes Well Done Fox was withdrawn, having refused to enter the stalls, at York last month and he has only beaten one horse home in his last two starts. That said he should not be dismissed easily and won a listed event over C&D as a juvenile. Marginal preference, however, is for Leodis Dream (2.05) who disappointed on his last start when stumbling at the start at York.
Before that effort, David O’Meara’s gelding had won his last five and Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle with regular pilot Danny Tudhope, seemingly, deciding to stay at York. The selection is 9/2 with BetVictor and gets the each way vote.
The Mile Handicap is a fascinating race and a case can be made for most of the field. Baltic Baron (4/1 at BetVictor) was, arguably, unlucky on his British debut at Nottingham and has been dropped 1lb in the weights – Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle. Sawwaah is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first-time and must enter calculations but the each way vote goes to History Writer (3.15) who ran no race at Epsom last time but has a good record over today’s C&D and 11/1 with BetVictor might be a shade too big.
This will be the softest ground that Karnavaal (3.50) has encountered and I hope to see Sir Michael Stoute’s lightly-raced gelding improve for the switch to a more forgiving surface. He didn’t get the clearest of runs at York last time but would have been no match for Space Blues even with a smooth passage.
There is a valuable 12f handicap at Chester and Durston (2.40) is only 3lbs higher than when doing us a favour at Doncaster on Derby day. That run was on fast ground over 1m 6f and this drop back in trip on soft ground is a concern although he has only been raised 3lbs for his win in south Yorkshire. A draw in stall eight – of eight – is a slight concern but the excellent Hollie Doyle takes over in the saddle and at 9/2 he is another each way recommendation.
At Hexham trainer Alan King should know where he stands with regard to Notwhatiam given his Potterman readily disposed of the latter at Worcester a fortnight ago. King saddles the grey Fidux (3.20) who receives 6lbs from the Skelton runner and certainly has the scope for the larger obstacles.
At Doncaster on Sunday Sea Of Faith (3.20) looks to have every chance of breaking her maiden tag at the third time of asking. Things didn’t go her way at Newbury over 10f last time and this step up in trip by an extra quarter-mile should suit.
For all your racing odds go to BetVictor.com