Steve Hughes looks ahead to Saturday’s racing
We have another early start to work around the World Cup today with the two principal fixtures at Haydock and Sandown getting their major races in early. Of those the highlight is the Eclipse, despite the late defection of the Derby winner. I have best bets for those two cards plus a suggestion for Carlisle’s evening card.
Sandown 12.55: Daira Prince & Chiefofchiefs
Two against the field in this wide open valuable handicap.
Daira Prince has won all four handicaps he has contested on fast ground and both his starts since being gelded and with blinkers applied. He did well to win at Ripon last time after being shuffled to the back of the pack halfway down the straight and has the tactical pace to lie just off what should be a strong early pace here. This represents a step up in class but a 4lb rise for a win where he did not get the run of the race last time looks more than fair.
Chiefofchiefs is building up a consistent record and runs for a third consecutive time at Sandown following two cracking efforts of late. Whilst he likes some cover, he performs best tracking the leaders as he did when winning over this mile trip in May. He was given far too much to do from the rear of the field last time and did well to get as close as fourth. In such a big field a low draw has to be a small advantage and means Stevie Donohoe should find it easier to get a good early position.
Haydock 1.45: Across the Stars & Atkinson Grimshaw
Two each-way bets look the best play here in a race in which the market leaders look vulnerable.
Across the Stars was a Group 2 winner at Royal Ascot in 2016, but on several starts thereafter ruined his chances in group company by pulling too hard in tactical races. Having been dropped by the handicapper he looks better suited to fast paced big field handicaps. He has proven that with two fine runs of late. A narrow second at York, he backed that up with a third place at Epsom on Derby Day. It is to be hoped those fine runs will be boosting his confidence and despite easing back up the weights he is in the form to take a hand herein a race where he should get plenty of cover to help him settle.
The intriguing runner in the field is bottom weight Atkinson Grimshaw for shrewd handler Ian Jardine. He made the running throughout last season after winning a small race at Chester and did well without winning again. However ridden off the pace on his first start of 2018 and first run for his new yard, he made eyecatching progress over an inadequate 10f to finish second at Ayr. That was most probably being used as a mere prep for this bigger prize and he will surely do better over the 12f that he has all his best form at.
Sandown 2.10: Saxon Warrior
It is a shame about Masar’s injury and I am hoping that we will see the best of Saxon Warrior today back down in trip.
He looked the real deal as a juvenile, combining a good turn of speed with real determination to see off Roaring Lion in Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy. He was not a certain runner in the 2000 Guineas until late on, but displayed the same abilities when storming home to win that day at Newmarket with Roaring Lion well beaten.
Put forward as a real Triple Crown hope by Aidan O’Brien, his Epsom run was disappointing when only fourth. He did well when third at the Curragh last week but did give the impression that the petrol gauge was empty and he looks more of a natural 10f horse. Provided those recent exertions have been overcome I think he can outbattle his rivals up the stiff climb to the finish.
Carlisle 8.00: Ghayyar
The Tim Easterby team is in all conquering form at the moment and his Ghayyar can score for the second time this summer over Carlisle’s mile.
Good enough to win a Newmarket maiden for Richard Hannon as a juvenile, the gelding lost his way in 2017. He was sent to the autumn sales and picked up by the Easterby team and the Yorkshire handler seems to have got the 4yo back to his best.
Soft ground and too long a trip found him out on his first two starts, but the stiff mile on fast ground here suited perfectly when beating the in-form Florencio a length. He has since run well in a big field at York and did better than the result suggests at Haydock when beating only one home last time. His effort that day strongly suggested a return to a stiffer track would suit and this race will probably take less winning that his last two contests.
1pt win – Daira Prince – 12.55 Sandown – 7/1 Coral
0.75pts each-way – Chiefofchiefs – 12.55 Sandown – 8/1 Bet365
0.5pts each-way – Across the Stars – 1.45 Haydock – 11/1 Skybet (1/6 odds first 5)
0.75pts each-way – Atkinson Grimshaw – 1.45 Haydock – 10/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 5)
1.5pts win – Saxon Warrior – 2.10 Sandown – 11/4 Coral, Betfred, Totesport
1.5pts win – Ghayyar – 8.00 Carlisle – 3/1 Paddy Power