2.35pm Sandown Tips & Betting Preview 02/07/2016

An interesting if competitive looking handicap sees some decent horses set to go in to battle, but be warned, three-year-olds have a poor record in this race and that fact needs to be built in to any final decisions.  Early betting saw Best Of Times (6/1) heading the market, but is that based on his ability, or the fact that trainer Saeed Bin Suroor won the race last season with Basem at odds of 7/2 (joint favourite).  As for the horse, he looked the likely winner of the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot when looming up full of running at the furlong pole only to fade in to sixth, but that was over a mile and a quarter, and connections must feel a drop back to the mile will suit today. We aren’t quite so easily convinced as he was being hard ridden a long way out that day, suggesting he may have an issue trying to lay up with these in the earlier stages of the race today (as they are likely to be going a fair bit quicker), but if he can, he will be running on though beaten horses and he looks to have decent place chances today, if nothing else.

Donncha (8/1 Each Way) is our idea of the more likely winner and Robert Eddery has booked Tom Marquand to ride while he can still claim his three pounds. We can ignore his last run at Royal Ascot when he was slowly away and then very badly hampered, but he has still been dropped a pound by the over generous handicappers, and arrives here with a solid each way chance on ground he will handle better than most and with this top jockey reducing his burden, a booking that we see as a hint in itself about how strongly his astute stable fancy his chances of success.

With Sir Michael Stoute and his team somewhat rejuvenated this season, it will be interesting to see how Mutamakkin (5/1) gets on here as he has always been held in some regard at home apparently.  Six races for two wins and a third in three seasons suggest he has had his issues and isn’t the easiest to train, and his two earlier runs this season, a third to Accession and an eighth to Knight Owl at Newmarket failed to see him at his very best. Last time out though, he was well supported to 11/4 favourite at Sandown where he was confidently ridden by Ryan Moore to squeeze through horses late on for a clever three-quarter length success from Franklin D. Although less impressive to the eye than that sounds, the narrow margin does mean he has only been put up another five pounds, and he could yet be well handicapped if he proves capable of running two races the same in succession, that is.

Meanwhile, Mark Johnston’s Whitman (16/1) looks to be slowly running in to form based on his head second to Timeless Art at Ayr last time out, but that was on good to firm going and today is very different. A son of Poet’s Voice, he has placed on good to soft but all his best form is on faster ground which has to worry his supporters, and although he may well be improving at a rate of knots, we cant be backing him today in these miserable conditions.

Lastly, how about at least considering White Lake (15/2) as an each way alternative with the booking of Andrea Atzeni pretty eye catching for the Roger Varian trained four-year-old. After winning his maiden at York first time out at York, the son of Pivotal has yet to bother the judge I ne but he has been running exclusively in Listed company, and has been beaten by the likes of Home Of The Brave Consort, and Tupi which is no disgrace. Dropped in to handicap grade here, he may be better dropped a few more pounds by the assessors but has an each way chance regardless and thoroughly deserves his place on our short list.

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