Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has four tips for today's action, including a NAP at Sandown.
A big and keenly-contested field assembled for this fillies’ event and it’s one ONASSIS (best price 6-1) should be capable of featuring in if repeating her C&D victory from last October under similar conditions.
Already proven on soft ground with her win at Royal Ascot early in the season, Charlie Fellows’ mare was well-backed to get the job done at the Sussex track despite dropping back down in trip and as it panned out, those who took part in the punt never had too many anxious moments. Dropped out in her customary fashion, the daughter of Dubawi came through with a powerful run inside the final two furlongs and once in front, she had enough reserves to fend off the persistent challenge of the useful With Thanks. Shaping as though in need of the run on her seasonal return at Royal Ascot, she ran with a good deal more promise last time out at York when staying on in pleasing fashion to take fourth behind Light Refrain in a decent listed contest and with that effort should have served the purpose of putting a nice edge on her fitness levels, she looks poised to go close with plenty in her favour.
Poetic Flare has undoubtedly been the dominant force of his generation over a mile and his victory in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Ascot ranks alongside some of the very best time figures so this season. That performance at the Royal meeting and his Guineas victory both came on genuinely fast ground, so whether he can run to the same heady heights is the only real question mark he has to answer and at the prices, he’s passed over in favour of TILSIT (best price 12-1).
A much improved performer this season on account of his narrow-margin defeat at the hands of the top-class French miler Skaletti in the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan, Charlie Hills’ colt soon made amends when capturing an ultra-competitive Group 2 at Ascot last time out. Keeping on strongly in the latter stages, the son of First Defence showed admiral battling qualities to fend off the likes of Century Dream, Al Suhail and Top Rank and with the speed figure pointing towards his effort being close to a career high, he clearly arrives here right on top of his game. Additionally, the four-year-old is one of the few horses in the field who already has proven C&D form courtesy of his victory at this meeting last season and with his ability to handle plenty of ease in the ground also safely tucked away in his locker, a big performance should be forthcoming from this likeable and consistent type.
ROYAL RENDEZVOUS (best price 13-2) was a well-backed favourite when a creditable runner-up in this race last season and with connections clearly at pains to keep a lid on their charge in the interim period with a view to coming back and going one place better, Willie Mullins’ gelding should turn out to be a strong contender.
A real market springer despite having only raced four times over fences previously, the nine-year-old never really put a foot wrong, he was just unfortunate to come up against a well handicapped horse on the day in the shape of former Cheltenham Festival winner, Early Doors. Next seen at the Punchestown Festival, he fell foul of what proved to be a litany of false starts that dogged the six-day meeting by missing the break by the thick end of 20 lengths, so in the end, he did really well to finish as close up as he did. Given a classic preparation for this race by have a nice little spin around Ballinrobe over hurdles last time, the son of King’s Theatre should be cherry-ripe for this prestigious prize and with his optimum conditions in his favour, it’s hard to envisage him not going well with a clear round.
A cracking three-year-old staying handicap in prospect with several having strong claims, none more so than VINO VICTRIX (NAP) (best price 13-5), who might just be capable of pressing home the advantage of his C&D win last time out.
Well-backed in the market beforehand, clearly a more positive outcome was anticipated from Hughie Morrison’s gelding stepping up in trip and as it materialised, those who took part in the gamble certainly knew their onions. Thriving off the back of a strong pace, the son of Sir Percy really came good in the latter part of the contest, so much so that he managed to run the last three- furlongs way quicker than the likes of proven top-class performers, Red Verdon and Euchen Glen. Unsurprisingly, given those numbers, the race at the Esher track has worked out accordingly with the likes of Classic Lord, Dancing Harry, Noonday Gun and even the last home, Dance To Paris, all win since, so to come out of the contest only 5lb higher in the ratings seems quite lenient. A likely type for something like Melrose at York later in the season, he will obviously have come through today’s stern test before those lofty aspirations are realised, but with his favoured easy ground in place and top apprentice in the saddle, the improving three-year-old can at least stake his claim for future big prizes.