Best bets for the horse racing at Sandown Park Friday 23rd April

Bet365 Classic Trial Day as it is known these days is a great little afternoon of racing that I have gone along to more than once at Sandown. It is the first event of the Flat season at the Esher venue with plenty of quality racing including the Group Three bet365 Classic Trial, Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes and the Group Two bet365 Mile. The going is good-good to firm in places with the weather set to be lovely; the perfect afternoon for a bit of racing making it even more annoying that we can’t go along this year. The meeting will be broadcast on RTV and ITV4 so settle in for a Friday afternoon of top class action.  

Best bets for the horse racing at Sandown Park on the Classic Trial Day

The first of interest to me is the bet365 Esher Cup Handicap in which the Godolphin owned Quintillus lines-up at 1.50. I have tipped the three-year-old on all three of his career starts, one win at Kempton last autumn, and I am tipping him again on this his handicap debut. As mentioned before he is a Dubawi half-brother to several winners being by Epitome and I think is one to keep on side as a three-year-old. Gets in off a mark of 92 and I am convinced he will be rated higher than this as the season progresses so he could be will in here. Get on at 8-1.  

We have the 1m2f Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at 2.25 and it’s a cracking open affair. This is the ideal trip for Extra Elusive but he was never involved in the Saudi Cup first time out last time. These calmer waters should suit much better with a couple of G.3 victories to his name and he is considered. Desert Encounter hasn’t won since 2019 but has run with credit on a number of occasions in races tougher than this over the last year or so and also has a chance on best form. That said the nine-year-old aint getting any younger. Highest Ground is lightly raced having had his problems. Caught in the shadow of the post in the G.2 Dante Stakes he was then disappointing in the G.3 Darley Stakes last back end never getting involved. If Stoute has worked his magic over the winter the four-year-old has every chance but it is a fairly big if. Thunderous is the colt that caught him in the Dante Stakes and the pair are clearly closely matched. Waldkonig won on his seasonal debut earlier this month in a class 2 handicap and steps up in class. I think the fact it is Gosden and Dettori is the reason he is jolly though rather than what he has achieved thus far. It wasn’t the toughest assignment at Pontefract and he will need much more here. I have plumped for one of the other four-year-olds. Hukum simply didn’t quite stay in the St Leger to my eyes when we last saw him (I tipped him!) and it will be interesting to see how he goes here over this trip. He stayed on strongly in the 1m4f King George V Stakes and 1m5f G.3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes to win both prior to the Doncaster run which begs the question will this trip be on the sharp side? There is an emphasis on stamina here courtesy of the gradual climb from the home turn and if I was Jim Crowley I would be kicking for home quite early in the 4f uphill run-in to get a few of these off the bridle. I have the 100-30 in the hope that’s what he does and it works.  

The Group Two bet365 Mile at 3.00 is the title race of the day and Palace Pier will be a warm order and annoyingly unbackable. Rated 9lb better than the opposition it looks a great opportunity to get his four-year-old campaign off to a winning start. Khuzaam won the All-Weather Mile Championships but has to prove he goes as well on turf whilst Happy Power is surely happier over shorter.

At 3.35 we have the 1m2f Group Three bet365 Classic Trial. Godolphin had four entered for this including Wirko who won the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on Tuesday. It is interesting, with that in mind, that he still has two in this with Yibir arriving top-rated and is the choice of William Buick. The chestnut colt was improving with every run last season, finishing with two wins, and looks the type to improve again at three. By Dubawi out of Rumh  he is a half-brother to two winners and full-brother to the top-class Wild Illusion suggesting this step-up to middle distances should hold no fears. I have happily taken 11-4.  

Be lucky