Race Time: 2.20pm Meeting: Sandown Distance: 1m 14y
Full Race Name: Winner Sports Handicap (Class 2)
Whether we get lucky enough that all sixteen stand their ground and we get the each way opportunities of first to fourth seems unlikely to be fair, but we can only work with what we have and with that many runners each way seems the only way to play. Enlace (10/1) catches the eye for trainer Mark Johnston with both her three year old and her fillies’ allowances. Considering her tender years. She already has a race record of twelve starts, two wins (at Hamilton and Goodwood, one over five furlongs and one over seven), plus two seconds and two thirds – so a fairly solid each way option then! Whether this mile is really her trip is open to question (on breeding it certainly is), and we feel she may still be better over seven to be straight, but at these weights with Franny Norton in the saddle, all things are possible for a yard we all know will always have their horses trying their absolute best.
Hopefully Frankie Dettori will already have a winner under his belt by now, and he will be on board Jacob Black (13/2), the only horse in the field to win last time out. Trained by Keith Dalgleish in South Lanarkshire he was runner up to Musaddas when unfancied at Newmarket, but followed that up with a neck success over Secret Art under Frankie at Sandown, making all and comfortably repelling all borders. He may be a touch better than the bare form suggests and has only gone up three pounds for the privilege, leaving the son of Amadeus Wolf as a very serious contender, and one to at least include in all your forecasts.
With the James Fanshawe stable in good form of late it could be financial folly to ignore the chances of Knight Owl (10/1) even if his form sees a lot less obvious than some of his main market rivals. Now a five year old, his last win was off a rating of 84 at Redcar over this mile on Good to Firm going last September, and he runs today off a mere pound higher and with two runs under his belt for the season should be cherry ripe this afternoon leaving Andrea Atzeni with a great chance of getting him to the winners circle once again this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Godolphin continue to tick over without any earth shattering results but will be hoping for more victories from Basem (13/2) who has only visited the track a total of four ties at the age of four, with two of them victories at Newmarket and Sandown sandwiching a second at Beverley. We may be best off ignoring his last run when fading late on after being stepped up to a mile and a quarter where he patently failed to stay the trip and on the evidence we have seen so far he is clearly better than average. On actual form to date he is probably rated about right off of 94 (we calculated it at 93 in our own handicap to be fair), meaning his no good thing at all, but he does look to have a lot more room for improvement than most in this field and may well be a bit better than a handicapper by the season’s end.
The main danger to our expected winner looks to be Tournament (10/1), though he will need to improve as expected for his third at Haydock where he was a bit below his very best on our ratings. He did win two races on the all-weather last season, one in France and one at Lingfield, but is yet to score on the turf in five attempts here and in France which has to be a concern, but if there is a fly in the ointment today, the son of Oasis Dream could be the one to shock us all at an expected double figure price.