It is difficult to separate Threat Assessed and WILD HACKED (Best price 9-4) who are closely matched on their running at Sandown last month when the former prevailed by a couple of lengths. Clive Cox’s charge swerved a similar engagement yesterday in preference for this and will be a tough rival to overcome but his stable are a little subdued following a brilliant run and Wild Hacked has always raced as though a step up in trip should suit. The selection was previously fifth in a warm mile handicap here and his yard have also struck form in the past week.
A recent Cork success signalled a return to form for SPIRIT QUARTZ (Best price 5-1) and he could be worth siding with in a race packed full of possibilities. The selection isn’t perfectly drawn in stall 10, but with the likelihood of the speedy Log Out Island going forward from 12 then the selection could enjoy a good draft into the race behind the speed. Robert Cowell has become the go-to trainer in sprints of this nature and the eight-year-old handles cut in the ground well and was only a length behind the classy Profitable at Newmarket in April. Wokingham runner-up Brando is respected while Hamilton scorer Monsieur Joe looks over priced.
John Gosden has enjoyed plenty of success in this event in recent times, winning three of the last five renewals so both of his runners, FURIA CRUZADA (Best price 13-2) and Lady Of Camelot, a good winner at Leicester last time, deserve maximum respect. The former, a three-time Group 1 winner in Argentina, chased home the classy Usherette at Ascot and will relish the return to middle distances, while the easy ground will be no issue either. Likely favourite Endless Time looked a class act last term but hasn’t been seen since October, while former Gosden inmate Loving Things began her career for new connections in style at Pontefract. As a daughter of Pivotal she should relish returning to a softer surface.
Best Of Times will appreciate the return to a mile after failing to see out 10f at Ascot but he got a little warm before the race that day and, although obviously talented, his quirks could be stopping him realising his potential. While there is a slight concern that MUTAMAKKIN (Best price 5-1) wouldn’t want the ground to deteriorate markedly, he has coped with easy conditions in the past and the selection showed last time over course and distance that this track suits him well. With a record of three wins from four Sandown starts it would be remiss not to back CHEVALIER (Best price 16-1) too even if he doesn’t stand out from a handicapping perspective. His affinity for the track and form of stable means the 16-1 is too bit to resist.
The ability to stay further than 12f and act well on deep ground will be vital attributes in this event and DESERT ENCOUNTER (Best price 6-1) ticks both of those boxes so gains the vote. The selection won with a fair bit in hand at Windsor last Saturday and doesn’t look the type to over exert himself in a race which is why he’s managed to win four on the spin without being that harshly treated by the assessor. David Simcock’s charge arrived at the head of affairs travelling strongly seven days ago and looked to pull himself up in front before winning snugly so it is unlikely Jamie Spencer will be in a hurry today. Last year’s winner NOTARISED (Best price 20-1) is shortlisted again as he has undergone pretty much the same prep as last year, i.e. disappointed in the Northumberland Plate prior to arriving here. He won’t mind the mud and is worth a modest each-way play.
WILAMINA (Best price 9-2) was hugely impressive at Newmarket when making all to score on easy ground and she could take the step up in class in her stride. Martyn Meade’s daughter of Zoffany bowled along in a professional and enthusiastic manner on the July Course and if she can transfer those attributes to Sandown – a track which often plays to the strengths of pace setters – he could be a tough adversary to peg back. The drop to a mile with some cut in the ground should suit Snow Moon who was undone by a falsely-run race at Newbury. She will be tough to beat as will Sharaakah who was a fine third at Ascot in the Sandringham Handicap.
There may be a lack of stardust in today’s Coral-Eclipse thanks to one or two high-profile absentees, but it remains a fine race and it will be fascinating to see how THE GURKHA (Best price Evens) copes with tackling his elders for the first time. By common consent, the son of Galileo was unfortunate in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot when he failed to overhaul Guineas winner Galileo Gold in the straight having been set plenty to do. His conqueror that day was the recipient of a cute tactical ride from Frankie Dettori, but there was enough in the The Gurkha’s performance to suggest his wide-margin French Guineas success was no fluke and he can take another step up the ladder this afternoon. Unfortunately, the layers are taking no chances with his price, but his breeding suggests there will be more to come now he tackles 10 furlongs and, if he can utilise that trademark change of gear, he will prove a very tough adversary with underfoot conditions likely to suit.
The ground is the issue with Time Test who has been allowed to take his chance despite arguably wanting genuine summer conditions to display his optimum form. I wouldn’t be as quick as some to write off Roger Charlton’s colt, especially if Esher misses the showers but, he is so explosive on a fast terrain, he is reluctantly overlooked.
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