Sandown Park in Esher remains very much centre stage over the weekend with the Bet365 Jump Finale on Saturday; I had two winners and a non-runner from three bets Friday on the Flat so hopefully, the good form will continue.
Altior is looking to take his place in the record books and rack-up his 19th successive victory in the Grade One bet365 Celebration Chase at 3.00. He is predictably odds-on with a few of the usual suspects lining-up and likely getting the all too familiar look at his rear end as he goes on to win. You can’t bet in the race but it will certainly be worth a watch; horses this good and this dominating in their sphere don’t come along that often. Sceau Royal, rated 11lb his inferior, is the only one that might be able to stay with him, at least until they jump the last at which point you would expect it to hear Nico de Boinville saying ‘see you later’ to Daryl Jacob. As for the rest of the card, I honestly could not tip you one with any conviction and will not be getting involved.
I am getting involved on the Flat and will be having four bets across the day.
The 7f Listed EBF Stallions King Richard III Stakes at Leicester due off at 2.45 is the race of the day on the Flat. Hey Gaman was last seen fading out of contention in the 1m G.1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last back end, this level and this distance are much more his game. Rain is forecast and all three of his wins have come with the word ‘soft’ in the going description. I think he might be out and gone in this, likes to make the pace, with the others unable to claw him back and have a bit of the 4-1. Eqtidaar has shown flashes of brilliance but might not want the rain and the trip is a question mark. Cardsharp is the one that is match fit but will have to improve some to get involved here.
In the evening Saeed bin Suroor sends two maidens to Doncaster and any maidens team Godolphin send up there are always worth a second look. Two-year-old Great Image makes his debut in the 5.45 Sky Sports Racing Virgin 535 EBF Maiden Stakes. A January foal you would hope he will be ready and know his job. At 6.15 the once-races 4yo Jalaad goes in the Morley Glass & Glazing Maiden Stakes. A promising second on his belated debut as a 3yo at Lingfield in October he has been gelded since and improvement is surely on the cards. I will be grabbing the best price I can as soon as the Bookies chalk-up.
The 6.45 still up at Doncaster they have the 1m2f Switched On Solutions Group Handicap. I think the handicapper made have greatly underestimated Fujaira Prince the grey five-year-old making his handicap debut off a mark of 88 here. Bred to be good he ran once at three when second then won his two sole starts last season as a four-year-old by six-lengths with any amount apparently in hand. Connections have shown great patience and I think with his low mileage and obvious likelihood to be still improving he might be a contesting black type races later in the summer and we will all be asking how did we ever get 3-1 from Hills about him in a Class 3 handicap? The Varian yard is in form and Atzeni rides; get on!
On Sunday Godolphin are out to land the first European Group One of the season at Longchamp, the Prix Ganay, with my 16-1 Arc ante-post each-way punt at Ghaiyyath. He was already odds-on at 4-7 on Wednesday and into 1-2 at the time of writing on Friday. Having returned early from winter quarters in Dubai at Marmoom Stables he was an impressive all-the-way winner in the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt this month, tipped on here. Reportedly the colt impressed in his final spin on Appleby's private watered gallop on Wednesday, when he easily accounted for 109-rated Glorious Journey in a five-furlong breeze. Appleby said: "We tried running a pacemaker for Ghaiyyath in the Harcourt but James Doyle on Lucius Tiberius couldn't get near him, so we won't need to do that again. Ghaiyyath has earned a crack at the Ganay, in which he faces his first acid test. We know he likes Longchamp and I'm not worried that the distance is ten and a half furlongs as he wasn't stopping over a slightly lesser trip last time. He enjoys cut in the ground and hopefully should get some." Appleby added: "We'll get this out of the way before we think about future targets, but we see him as an Arc horse." He can't be backed in this but hopefully, he’ll be as impressive again and a lot shorter for the big one in October by Sunday evening.