All eyes are on leafy Esher and Sandown Park this weekend for the two day meeting which sees the first Flat racing of the season at the track as well as the Jump Season finale. Friday features seven flat races, including two Group Threes and a Group Two the Gordon Richards Stakes, bet365 Classic Trial and bet365 Mile. There is a chance they will get some rain during the day so expect Good-good to soft in places going. The 1m2f Group Three Gordon Richards Stakes is due off at 2.25; Ulysses, of course, won this last year before going on to do the G.1 Coral-Eclipse / Juddmonte international double later that year. Fabricate will run for the Queen (gawd bless her) and as much of a fan as I am of the six-year-old he looks up against it with Crystal Ocean in the line-up. The colt was the talking horse of last year in many ways and put in some pretty decent efforts in 2017, placed in G.2 Dante and G.2 King Edward before taking the G.3 Gordon Stakes then ran second in the G.1 St Leger when last seen. Lightly raced for a four-year-old and in the hands of Sir Michael Stoute there is every reason to believe he will improve again this season and this looks a nice race to start his 2018 campaign off in before he is surely targeted at Group One’s later in the summer. He is 11-10 best for this and I have that.
The three-year-olds line-up over the 1m2f at 3.00 for the bet365 Classic Trial not that any of these are near the head of the Market for the Derby at this time. Chilean has shown the most on the racetrack thus far, won a Group Three at Longchamp earlier this month, having finished sixth in the G.1 Racing Post Trophy last back end. It’s a tricky heat with a number open to any amount of improvement. Charlie Appleby (I know I am starting to sound like his PR agent) sends Ispolini and he is a colt that intrigues me. A 1.2 million Guineas yearling he is the third foal of Giants Play and is by Dubawi making him a half-brother to winners Playful Sound (1m1f & 1m2f) and Azzam (1m2f & 2m AW) suggesting this trip will suit just fine. The dam won over 1m4f for Sir Michael Stoute before moving across the pond where she won a Grade Two over 1m2f on the turf. The yard is in flying form and as a great example of a colt who could blossom at three I am on at 9-2.
I tipped Addeybb to win the Lincoln at 6-1 and he duly obliged. The four-year-old chestnut takes a step-up in class for the Group Two Bet365 Mile at 3.35. He looked every inch a potential Group performer that day and being so lightly raced there is every chance he will improve a few pounds yet this year. 7-4 is short enough truth be told but the image of him striding clear of the Lincoln field is fresh in the memory and you had to be impressed by the way he did it that day.
They go over the five for the Bet365 Handicap at 4.05 and I am taking a chance on one in this as well. There is a distinct advantage to being drawn low on this straight track and frontrunners also tend to do well. Spoof won over course and distance last season, is drawn in two and likes to be up the pointed end from the off so there is a lot to like about the Charlie Hills trained gelding. He would have hated the heavy going at Bath on his seasonal reappearance so that can be ignored and he is better judged on decent efforts following that win here in the G.2 Flying Childers and G.3 Cornwallis Stakes last backend. He is a speculative punt at 8-1. Diamond Dougal is the jolly with a 6lb penalty for his win at Bath last week but has it to do from stall 7.