Richard Mann and Matt Brocklebank look ahead to the weekend and nominate five horses to follow on another packed Saturday of equine action.
Sergei Prokofiev - Coral Charge (1.50 Sandown)
History tells us that it can be incredibly hard for three-year-old sprinters to take on their older peers, particularly at the highest level, so Sergei Prokofiev ought to be much happier when he takes in the Group Three Coral Charge at Sandown on Saturday with all but two of his rivals of the same generation.
Aidan O'Brien's Scat Daddy colt has always been held in high regard at Ballydoyle and he looked a sprinter of considerable promise when coming from last to first to win the Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket back in the autumn.
Despite making a successful reappearance in Listed company, Sergei Prokofiev has found things tougher so far this term but he still ran well when fourth to Mabs Cross in the Palace House Stakes before finding the ground slower than ideal when below par in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Forecast good to firm ground will be right up his street on Saturday, as will this notable ease in the grade, and O'Brien will no doubt be keen to see his charge get his career back on track before he returns to the top table later in the season.
Unlike Sergei Prokofiev, Garrus will line up with his career firmly on the up following a couple of wins at a lower level but he has been dealt a big blow berthed out in stall nine and the former could just have too many guns in his armoury on this occasion.
Mind The Crack - bet365 Handicap (2.05 Haydock)
A three-year-old handicap over a mile and three-quarters and perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised to see Mark Johnston responsible for four of the seven runners.
Despite this it could be Richard Fahey’s Arctic Fox who goes off favourite following the filly’s three straight wins over slightly shorter distances at Newmarket and York (x2).
She’s a fascinating horse but Johnston – who won the race 12 months ago with subsequent Chester Cup winner Making Miracles – clearly has a stranglehold on matters and it’s last month’s course winner Mind The Crack who looks the one to be on under Haydock specialist Richard Kingscote.
Mind The Crack has gone up 6lb for his mile and a half success at this venue but could be called the winner a long way from home and still looks to have significant upside from his revised rating of 89.
Having won on good to firm in a Lingfield maiden on his seasonal debut, the son of Jukebox Jury doesn’t have much to prove ground-wise and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him progress past stablemate Sir Ron Priestley who was obviously well fancied at Royal Ascot but came up well short on ground he may not have appreciated.
Encapsulation - Coral Distaff (3.00 Sandown)
Andrew Balding's training talents need little introduction and his horses continue to run well following another Royal Ascot where he was amongst the winners.
It is no surprise to see his string continue to grow and Encapsulation is the latest exciting prospect to arrive at Kingsclere following her fine second to Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood in a Listed race at Navan back in the spring.
The form of that race has worked out really well, confirming the promise she displayed when easily landing a Clonmel maiden on her previous start, and she still looks firmly on the upgrade.
With Balding now tasked with securing a first black-type success for this filly, she seems sure to be ready to roll on her first start for new connections in the Coral Distaff (3.00) at Sandown and stall one and the booking of Jim Crowley are further significant pointers to her chances.
The likes of Beyond Reason and Main Edition bring a solid level of form to the table but the latter must shoulder a 5lb penalty and neither boast the same scope as the promising Encapsulation.
Kelly’s Dino - bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap (3.15 Haydock)
The Old Newton Cup has real strength in depth this time around with First Eleven, who qualified for the Sky Bet Ebor with a victory over Fujaira Prince at York in May, topping the weights.
He’ll be having his final start before a tilt at the £1million prize back on the Knavesmire next month but there are others in here who could yet state their case for the Ebor.
Al Muffrih promises to be suited by the move up in distance, while Koeman looks to be building towards something big after two promising runs so far this season, but Kelly’s Dino isn’t out of it either and may represent a spot of value this weekend.
Karl Burke’s six-year-old was really progressive last year and, following a wind operation in the spring, looked back on an upward curve when just going down to Island Brave at Ayr recently.
He’s a pound better off with the reopposing winner this Saturday and won’t mind dropping back to a strongly-run mile and a half.
Falcon Eight - Coral Marathon (4.45 Sandown)
Dermot Weld's visits to England might not be as frequent as racing fans would like but they are always noteworthy with the master Irish handler plundering the Epsom Derby with Harzand as recently as 2016.
Weld certainly won't cough up for the air-fare without good reason and as such, it is fascinating to see his lightly-raced stayer, Falcon Eight, one of six declarations for the Coral Marathon at Sandown (4.45).
The four-year-old son of Galileo has been brought along with typical patience by Weld so far, winning twice from three starts last term before reappearing with a fine second to subsequent Curragh cup hero Twilight Payment at Leopardstow in May.
He got caught out of his ground a little that day, coming from the back to finish very strongly into second and hinting that this step up to two miles would prove absolutely ideal.
Even more significantly, connections were considering a tilt at the Ascot Gold Cup and a crack at the mighty Stradivarius last month until opting to keep their powder dry and the suspicion remains that Weld thinks he has a top-class prospect on his hands.
With Frankie Dettori called up to take the ride, connections are clearly keen to ensure they have every angle covered and don't be surprised if the Group Two Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot, a race Weld won with Forgotten Rules back in 2014, is where Falcon Eight ends up later in the season.
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