A field of seven go to post for a fascinating renewal of the Coral Marathon at Sandown on Saturday afternoon. Our Esher Stakes tips and betting preview can be found below.
IN SUMMARY: High Jinx returned from over two years off when a close second in the Yorkshire Cup and if coming on for the run should be going very close, but the ground may not be ideal and this can go to NEARLY CAUGHT. He finished third in this race last year off only a seven day break and has performed well on his three starts this season, most notably a second at Group 2 level in Germany. Today’s ground and trip will suit him perfectly and he looks set to gain a fifth career victory under James Doyle. Oriental Fox is likely to be popular after his Queen Alexandra victory at Royal Ascot, but this is unlikely to be enough of a test at this stage of his career.
1 FUN MAC – Hughie Morrison six year old whose run well enough in two runs this season, returning at Chester in May when third in the Chester Cup. He was around eight lengths behind Oriental Fox on his latest start at Ascot in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, though a step back in trip is more in his favour. Possible each way claims under Jim Crowley.
2 GOLDMEMBER – Won a maiden on his third start at Thirsk in May 2016 but he’s mainly struggled since then for David Simcock. He was around a length behind Fun Mac at Newmarket in the Fenwolf Stakes back in September but his return at York left a lot to be desired, finishing only eighth. More is needed now against rivals who have achieved more and he should just miss out on the placings with all things considered.
3 HIGH JINX – Won the Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp in October 2015 for James Fanshawe, showing promise on his first run for over two years on debut for the Tim Easterby yard. He finished third in that return, perhaps unlucky not to win the Yorkshire Cup after only being beaten around a neck. He should come on for the run and would be hugely dangerous to give a lead to in this, though this ground perhaps isn’t ideal on the best of his runs. Has to be respected nonetheless under Ryan Moore for an in form yard.
4 MONTALY – Career best effort when winning the Chester Cup on his return in May, showing great resolve to get up close home under Oisin Murphy. William Buick takes the ride on this occasion and this slight drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem on the best of his previous form. He has to be given claims if building upon that Chester Cup run for Andrew Balding, with conditions to suit and this uphill finish likely to help him.
5 NEARLY CAUGHT – Finished third in this race last year and this looks a brilliant opportunity for him to gain a seventh career victory for Hughie Morrison. He finished a brilliant fifth in the British Champions Long Distance Cup back in October and he’s been running well this season without managing to get his head in front, narrowly beaten in a German Group 2 on his penultimate start. Both the ground and the trip are to suit and he should take all the beating under James Doyle, as he tends to very well off shorter breaks (third in this race last season after only seven days off).
6 ORIENTAL FOX – Excels at this biggest stamina tests for Mark Johnston, winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start when storming home to win by a length and a half. That was a likeable effort but both of his two previous victories have come at beyond two miles and you’d have to wonder if this is enough of a stamina test for him at this stage of his career. Possible each way contender at a strong pace but others will probably have too much speed for him at this trip.
7 ALYSSA – Won four times last year for Ralph Beckett including over the 1m 6f distance at Ascot in the Noel Murless Stakes, showing a brilliant attitude to take victory despite being keen early on. She was poor on her reappearance at York but she likely needed the run and perhaps that can be forgiven, judging by how progressive she was looking to be towards the end of last season. Shane Kelly takes the ride and with this step up in trip likely to be in her favour, she has to be considered.