Ben Linfoot, Matt Brocklebank and Andrew Asquith
Ben Linfoot, Matt Brocklebank and Andrew Asquith

Expert Panel: Saturday Racing including Coral-Eclipse tips at Sandown

Find out what our experts are thinking heading into Saturday's racing featuring City Of Troy in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

1. Is there a betting angle in the Coral-Eclipse?

Andrew Asquith: If it is the same City of Troy that we saw at Epsom then the remainder are surely playing for second place, as he looked something out of the ordinary that day. However, the dead-eight runners gives an each-way angle and I’d be inclined to side with Jayarebe at a top-price 20/1. Hans Anderson is seemingly in there to ensure a true pace and Jayarebe won’t be far away from him and if he gets rolling like he did at Royal Ascot he will surely be in the mix entering the final furlong.

Matt Brocklebank: I don’t imagine City Of Troy will have much trouble dispatching this lot, despite the fact they’re expecting a decent bit of rain overnight on Friday (up to 9mm according to the BHA website), so it would most likely be a ‘without the favourite’ wager. Potential improvers are thin on the ground but See The Fire would have to fit into that category given she’s almost guaranteed to be better suited to this 10-furlong trip – both on pedigree and what she’s been doing over shorter – and it’s interesting to see connections are willing to pitch her in at this level. She’s bred in the purple and could really thrive over middle-distances so one firm dangling 16/1 for her to win the battle for second looks reasonably generous.

Ben Linfoot: It’s a real shame that White Birch hasn’t turned up for the Coral-Eclipse as it does look like a penalty kick for City Of Troy now. Hans Andersen will do his donkey work up front and you can envisage Ryan Moore just sitting on his shoulder from an early stage, as he’ll be able to go where he wants from the outside stall in eight, granted a normal start. He wouldn’t want to get too far back at Sandown, he knows he stays further and on his best form he has plenty in hand, so I expect a routine success from a prominent position for the son of Justify. I must admit, I’m struggling to find a betting angle. I like Ghostwriter as a horse and 10-furlongs could be his trip, but given how this could play out stall one might be problematic, while I’m not totally convinced by Dancing Gemini yet, so I might play a couple of the outsiders for the runner-up spot in straight forecasts with City Of Troy in the winner’s position - Jayarebe and See The Fire make most appeal.

Aidan O'Brien's highest-rated horses
Aidan O'Brien's highest-rated horses

2. Live In The Dream in the Coral Charge – banker or bust?

Andrew Asquith: Live In The Dream sets a solid form standard, there is no doubt about that, and he is at least 6lb clear of the field on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings. However, he hasn’t been at his best in two starts so far this season, and was bitterly disappointing in Listed company at Haydock last time. He possibly found that race coming too soon after his reappearance, though, and he has won and finished runner-up on his two starts over this course and distance. If returning to the sort of form he showed in the Nunthorpe last year he’ll be hard to beat against this opposition and I wouldn’t want to be opposing him.

Matt Brocklebank: This is by no means a banker in my view. Yes, he’s got the best form in the book from his top-class efforts last season but when a sprinter loses that winning knack it can be hard to regain it and I’ve not seen enough from Live In The Dream yet this term to be taking any short prices about him for a Group 3 contest on a notoriously tricky track. Granted, the market leader is likely to be on the pace and avoid potential trouble behind rivals but he is drawn nine of 10 so might not be perfectly placed from the outset. Purosangue is only drawn a couple lower but he’s a keen-going sort I can see getting into a good early pitch under David Probert. He found the King Charles III Stakes too much for him at the royal meeting but had shaped reasonably well behind Al Jasour and Inisherin at Ascot and Haydock respectively prior to that. I liked him last year and think he has more to offer as a three-year-old sprinter.

Ben Linfoot: This is a tough one as on his Nunthorpe and Breeders’ Cup form he wins this, but he was way below-par at Haydock last time out after stumbling at the start and it’s tempting to take him on. I’ll say bust as there are some improving sprinters in against him and I think he will have to be right on his A-game to see them off. Desperate Hero is a horse I like a lot and he was hugely impressive at Hamilton in handicap company last time, thrashing them like a Group-class horse. He has seriously improved at the age of four and I can see myself betting on that last performance being no fluke.

Horse Racing Podcast: Classic Chat

3. Have you another horse to look out for at Sandown on Saturday?

Andrew Asquith: I put Classic up in the Coral Challenge in my Weekend View column and he would be my best bet on the card. He was a very unlucky loser over this course and distance three weeks ago when splitting Two Tempting and Dual Identity and I fully expect him to come out on top in that battle again. You have to respect the claims of Perotto on the back of his promising return in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, but to my mind Classic remains very well handicapped and, granted more luck in-running, on likely quicker ground which will be very much in his favour, I expect him to go very close.

Matt Brocklebank: I can’t guarantee I’ll be backing her but William Haggas running the 77-rated Tiaraqueen in the Coral Distaff has to be of some interest doesn’t it?! Especially as she’s been priced up around the 66/1 mark. Connections are obviously keen to try and nab a bit of black type for the daughter of Kingman (she’s out of a Pivotal mare who is a sister to Group 3 winner and Irish Guineas runner-up Penkenna Princess) and she’s got stacks to find on the face of it but the horse she beat in a recent Wetherby novice race (Thunder Run) bolted up at Thirsk earlier this week so she’s got some ability alright. She’d look a nice type for handicaps off her opening mark so it’s obviously one Haggas is happy to blow for the sake of having a shot at this weekend’s Listed price. Perhaps we should be taking the hint.

Ben Linfoot: I’ll be very interested to see how Storm Star gets on in the opening seven-furlong handicap. He’s a Night Of Thunder colt out of Dancing Star who was a Stewards’ Cup winner from a sprinting family, so he’s bred to be good and after just two all-weather runs in his career by the mid-point of his three-year-old campaign he’s clearly been given the time he needs. This is his turf and handicap debut so I’m not sure what to expect, while owner Jeff Smith has bigger fish to fry in the Eclipse, but I’ll certainly be watching him with a view to the future.

Trainer William Haggas
William Haggas: Trains Tiaraqueen

4. The Lancashire Oaks looks an interesting race, is Tiffany the next Alpinista?

Andrew Asquith: Tiffany is improving in leaps and bounds, there’s no doubt about that, and she recorded her sixth win in her last seven starts in commanding fashion at Newcastle last weekend. This will be a quick enough turnaround, though, and it is a deeper field, so I’d be inclined to take her on. Sea Theme finished behind Queen of The Pride and Lady Boba over this course and distance last time, but she left the impression she’d come on for the run, and didn’t get the clearest passage, either. I think there is more to come from her this season and the slower ground will bring her undoubted stamina into play, so I’ll side with her at around the 8/1 mark.

Matt Brocklebank: Well there’s a fair way to go for Tiffany to emulate that stablemate but we all know Sir Mark Prescott’s fillies can be hard to contain when they get on a roll and this daughter of Farhh is building some real momentum. The way she went through the bad ground in Germany two starts ago was quite striking and she basically matched that level of performance when readily landing the Group 3 at Newcastle last week. She’s going to appreciate the step up to 12 furlongs, with the long straight in her favour, and any softening of the ground will play to her strengths too. In short, there’s loads to like.

Ben Linfoot: Saying she’ll win a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a bit strong but Alpinista took this race on the way to winning six consecutive Group 1s and from the same Sir Mark Prescott yard Tiffany looks another filly on a frightening upward curve. Like Alpinista, she has already won in Germany and she was hugely impressive last week at Newcastle. I just wonder if the quick turnaround might be against her and if I do take her on I suspect that will be the reason why.

Luke Morris celebrates on Alpinista
Alpinista won the Lancashire Oaks before her special G1-winning run

5. And finally, a Saturday handicapper not to miss?

Andrew Asquith: The three-year-old handicap over a mile and three quarters at Haydock looks a cracker, and it is a race which William Haggas has an excellent recent record in, so my eye is drawn to Dramatic Star, who has progressed with each run this season. He opened his account with plenty in hand over 11 furlongs at Hamilton last month, and the form of his previous two runs is strong, too, so he looks very interesting from an opening mark of 87. This longer trip has the potential to unlock even further improvement and he looks a horse to keep on the right side.

Matt Brocklebank: It’s relatively low-grade fare but Shahnaz looks one to follow again as the recent stable switch to Daragh Bourke looks to have done her some good. She finally got back to winning ways at Hamilton last month and although nudged up 3lb for that half-length success, she did it a shade cosily in the end and has won at this track from 11lb higher than her revised rating so is clearly well ahead of the assessor if things have definitely clicked back into place, as would appear to be the case.

Ben Linfoot: Due For Luck could hardly have been better named and granted a clear passage he looks the one to beat in the opening Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap at Haydock on Saturday. John & Sean Quinn’s three-year-old has returned this season looking well handicapped off his mark in the 80s, but he got no run whatsoever around Chester first time up and then he finished third in the 3YO Dash at Epsom despite getting hampered continually in the final quarter mile. We’re entering no excuses territory at Haydock, but the same yard won this last year with Jm Jungle and the flat track here should really play to his strengths.

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