Sandown and Haydock provide us with another fantastic Saturday of racing, and the Coral Eclipse is the highlight of the day, whilst the Coral Charge, Coral Challenge, Coral Distaff and Coral Marathon provide a strong supporting cast to the Sandown card. Meanwhile, Haydock stages the prestigious Old Newton Cup and Lancashire Oaks.
Recent Prince of Wales winner The Fugue is favourite but she faces strong opposition. 2,000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder may well have been underestimated after being beaten hollow by Kingman in the St James’s Palace but, being by Dubawi, may well improve for stepping up to 10-furlongs. If he does, his turn of foot may see him claim this group-one prize. Aidan O’Brien runs Queen Anne runner-up Verrazano and St James Palace fourth War Command and both could be dangerous if they appreciate the trip, whilst at double figure prices last year’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather and Godolphin’s True Story could run into a place. However, the one they all have to beat is the Derby runner-up Kingston Hill, especially if the ground eases to good or softer. Only Australia (supposedly the best horse Aidan O’Brien has ever had) beat Roger Varian’s stable star at Epsom and 6/1 looks a big price.
Kingston Hill each-way 6/1 or better
Fancied runners Stepper Point, Ahtoug and Kingsgate Native all have pretty dismal records when racing at Sandown and, whilst they’ve all certainly got the class to win this, I’d rather take a chance on Shamshon at a double-figure price. Richard Hannon’s colt has run twice at the minimum trip of 5-furlongs, winning both, and looked a blatant non-stayer over 6-furlongs last time. A strong traveller, he should relish the fast run race he’s likely to get here.
Shamshon each-way 12/1 or better
Old Newton Cup
Trainer Luca Cumani has claimed this prestigious handicap three times in the last decade, and it’s not hard to imagine he’ll be picking it up for a fourth time with Havana Cooler. Cumani protected his charge’s handicap mark, choosing him not to run him before Royal ascot, where he was unfortunately slowly away before staying on for third behind the future group horse Arab Spring – compensation awaits!
*Best bet* Havana Cooler each-way 4/1 or better
Talent hasn’t troubled the judge since winning last year’s Epsom Oaks, and her only run this season saw her finish fifth when returned to that course for the Coronation Stakes. However, outclassed there, she may well return to form here, especially if there is a little juice in the ground. Seal of Approval, who beat Talent at Ascot in October, may prove the biggest danger and they are also worth combining in a reverse forecast.
Talent each-way 11/2 or better
Reverse forecast: Talent & Seal of Approval