18:00 Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap
I’ve gone NAP on the progressive What A Welcome here, and the race revolves around him, unpenalised as he is for an easy win at Newbury last week.
He finished last on his first two appearances which came on soft ground, so it could be argued that the overnight rain makes him vulnerable, but he was trained by the veteran Eric Wheeler for those first two outings shortly before he retired, and it’s debatable whether either effort was an indication of his ability.
He has improved with every start for Patrick Chamings and is probably much further ahead of his mark than the handicapper’s current assessment. He may not be the same force on easy ground, or indeed racing right-handed, but that is almost entirely conjecture, and he has the ability to rout this field, so layers need to tread very carefully.
18:35 Matchbook Commission Free On All Sports National Stakes
The tried and trusted way of dealing with 5f sprints at Sandown is to work on the basis that the far rail is much the best place to be, and then work out who has the speed to get on that golden highway without bursting themselves in the effort.
The best speed in the contest appears to belong to Blown By Wind, who has won on both heavy and good to firm, and made all to score at Ascot last time.
He is, however, drawn widest of all, and I think that scuppers his chance, as a change of tactics is surely a negative, and his chance of crossing to the rail ahead of some speedy rivals is slim.
That means he’s likely to show his speed without cover and wide on the track, and it takes an exceptional horse to do that here and succeed.
The other factor I’d consider is that juveniles who occupy the widest stall on just about any racecourse have a tendency to move into space rather than towards other rivals, although this tends to become less noticeable with experience.
If Blown By Wind takes a step to his left on leaving the stalls, it will cost him any chance of getting cover and is probably enough on its own to lose the race at such a competitive level.
Bet: Lay Blown By Wind for a place @ 2.2 or shorter
19:05 Matchbook Is Commission Free Heron Stakes
No real interest here, as it’s impossible to say how good Without Parole is, and while his price is skinny in terms of his ratings, he is probably a Group 1 performer in the making, and taking on unexposed horses with big-race entries from the John Gosden stable isn’t usually a profitable pursuit.
The shape of the market beyond the favourite doesn’t produce any obvious value, either, except for those betting each-way, of course.
19:35 Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes
Timeform describe Magic Circle as “consistent”, but they credit the 6-yo with almost a stone of improvement for his win in the Chester Cup, and while that was his first run for Ian Williams, I don’t believe for a second that he has made the jump from decent staying handicapper to Gold Cup contender, and he must be opposed on this step up to Group company.
He was visually impressive at Chester but had a much better run through than he enjoyed in the same race 12 months ago, and the annals of horseracing are littered with impressive handicap winners who have failed to make up into pattern performers despite fancy speed figures.
He wasn’t the most impressive performance in a Chester handicap in recent years, and the track can throw up some astounding results, as when Ocean Tempest won a handicap off a mark of 115 there in 2014.
No horse has won a flat handicap off a higher mark in the UK, and yet John Ryan’s gelding has gained just one place in umpteen outings since, and was last seen getting lapped off 78.
Chester – you just can’t trust the place.
Bet: Lay Magic Circle for a place @ 2.1 or shorter
20:10 Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes
Poet’s Word was flattered in my opinion when runner-up in a strongly-run Irish Champion Stakes last autumn, and that is the performance which suggests he has plenty in hand here, although he has run within a few pounds of that rating when placed in the Champion Stakes at Ascot and the Dubai Sheema Classic, so he’s clearly the one to beat, especially as he is receiving weight from horses rated below him due to race conditions.
My feeling is that he should be a shade of odds-on, but not as short as he is currently, and I’d be inclined to play against him if he got much shorter.
There’s not a great deal to be made by opposing perceived 1.83 shots at 1.66, however, and there are probably easier opportunities on the card to make a cheap buck.
20:40 Matchbook Betting Podcast Whitsun Cup Handicap
Hakeem was impressive at Southwell early this month, but what he achieved is open to debate, with the favourite hanging fire in the straight, and the William Haggas-trained gelding is far from certain to appreciate the return to turf, having been unplaced on his sole handicap start at Yarmouth last June.
He’s clearly unexposed, but it’s hard to be confident that he’s ahead of his mark racing off a much higher mark than when beaten, and his lack of experience in a big field is a worry, especially at a track like Sandown, which exposes any weakness.
He is in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, and that could be taken as a positive in terms of intent, but it’s understandable given his current rating that he should have such entries, and this is the litmus test of his ability to live up to such lofty hopes. His dam’s only win came on the all-weather, and my gut feeling is that this fella will prove best on such a surface too.
Bet: Lay Hakeem for a place @ 2.0 or shorter
Recommended Lay Bets:
- 18:35 – Lay Blown By Wind for a place @ 2.2 or shorter
- 19:35 – Lay Magic Circle for a place @ 2.1 or shorter
- 20:40 – Lay Hakeem for a place @ 2.0 or shorter