A mile and a quarter handicap to end the ITV Racing coverage this Saturday afternoon. Our runner by runner preview and expert tip are below.
IN SUMMARY: MASTER CARPENTER has run well in all four visits to Esher, he could round out the ITV races by making it five at a massive price. Eugenio won over this course and distance in July on much quicker ground, He is still well enough treated to consider strongly here if the ground isn’t too soft for him. Across Dubai is open to more improvement than the majority of them in this contest, he was far from disgraced at Glorious Goodwood and will enjoy being back in handicap company here. Thundering Blue has been in excellent form in recent weeks, a four pound rise for his latest win doesn’t look too harsh, so he is another to consider.
1 MASTER CARPENTER – Cashed in on his lowest mark for three years when bolting up at the Dante meeting. The ground came in his favour on that occasion and with the ground still officially good to soft, he will have it to his liking once more. He has been soundly beaten the last twice but he has run well all four times he has come to this track so back at his favoured stomping ground, he looks massively overpriced..
2 ABDON – Has shown little in three starts this season, he has slipped back to his last winning level. He has won on both soft and good to firm ground so he will have no issues whatever the weather does. This will only be the tenth career start for this four-year-old, he has to be given a chance with Sir Michael Stoute’s yard in smart form.
3 NOBLE GIFT – Only victory in the last sixteen months came on the All-Weather, but he ran well at Newmarket at the end of June from a pound higher. He likes to get on with things which is often the best way to win at Sandown, plus six of his nine wins have come this way round so he has an squeak.
4 PACIFY – Showed nothing on his first three starts this season, bouncing right back to form last time out when runner-up at Newmarket. Is five pounds better off for a three and a quarter length beating from Eugenio the time before over this course and distance. He was hampered at a crucial point on that occasion so the distance flatters the winner a little. Could go well if he can back up his latest effort, but given his past, that is no sure thing.
5 EUGINIO – Smart form in a pair of handicaps to begin the season, including a win over this course and distance. He was unable to cope with the lift up to Group 3 level last time when softer ground may not have suited him. If that was the case then conditions here may once again be a little on the slow side for him although he is back in calmer waters which is a plus.
6 MONARCHS GLEN – Typically headstrong son of Frankel, he has not been seeing out his races on turf this season. Gelded since last seen, connections will be pinning their hopes on the operation calming down his nature. Dotted up in a race on the Polytrack in April, this is tougher up almost a stone and he is still one to be treated with caution given his past exploits.
7 SILVER GHOST – Eve Johnson Houghton has really found the key to this gelding, rattling off a hat-trick of victories, most recently over this course and distance. That was only a 0/85 contest so up a stone in the weights and two grades are going to make this much tougher, but he won that with seemingly plenty in hand. He is a front runner which is a slight concern with Noble Gift in opposition as he is not going to get an easy time of things on the front, probably best watched.
8 OASIS FANTASY – Has some smart handicap form in his back catalogue, including when only beaten a length and a half over this course and distance last August from thirteen pounds higher. He has shown just two pieces of notable form this season for the David Simcock yard, both times with plenty of cut in the ground. Connections will be hoping conditions don’t dry out too much with a set of blinkers replacing the hood and cheekpieces he has worn the last twice. He won in blinkers when fitted for the first time in May last year so they are an interesting addition, but he has a bit to find with Mister Carpenter on their run at York in May.
9 SHABBAH – Rounded out a hat-trick of wins when scoring over this course and distance last season. He struggled a bit afterwards, forced up in grade with an inflated mark. He shaped fine on his 2017 return at Yarmouth just last week and from the Sir Michael Stoute yard, there is every chance he will be a better four-year-old, but this is a very quick turnaround which is a concern.
10 ACROSS DUBAI – Travelled strongly before showing a nice turn of foot to comfortably put a Haydock handicap to bed in July. He was thrown in the deep end at Glorious Goodwood, taking on the St Leger favourite in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes. He was far from disgraced there, beaten seven and a half lengths with this return to handicaps sure to suit. He has had just the four races, so with plenty of room for improvement, he looks one of the main protagonists.
11 ROTHERWICK – Last three wins have all come over the intermediate trip of nine furlongs, placed over this far but yet to convince this is really the trip that he wants. His win at Yarmouth in July was close to a career best, the first time he has won as high as Class 3 company. Stepped into a Class 2 and up to ten furlongs, he is easy enough to sit and watch in this particular contest.
12 MUTARAKEZ – Began his career in smart fashion, the winner of three of his first four starts. He has failed to get his head back in front from thirteen subsequent runs, generally looking the shadow of the horse he was before being gelded. He was only a length and a quarter behind Euginio here in August, form that would give him a chance, but he regularly flatters to deceive and isn’t a run to take at face value. He flopped badly at Ascot since, hard to know what frame of mind he will arrive in.
13 THUNDERING BLUE – Stepped up to this trip and with a bit of summer sun on his back, this gelding has flourished. He is a pound better off for being beaten half a length by Silver Ghost at Epsom, a race where he was given far too much to do, the winner taking much more of a prominent position early. He has won himself twice since, including at this Class 2 level at Newmarket. The second and third that day have placed since and the fourth has won so the form looks rock solid. He is four pounds higher now but given the form he is in that may not be enough to stop another bold bid.