There is some excellent racing going on up and down the country on Saturday with the Coral Eclipse at Sandown the undoubted highlight of the day. There is a decent support card at Sandown to enjoy and a really good card up at Haydock mixed in with all the other racing. We don’t have a selection in the big race but we’ve picked out two races to target over the course of the afternoon.
2.25 Sandown: Coral Challenge Handicap
The Coral Challenge looks as competitive as ever on paper with 14 runners for this Class 2m 1 mile handicap.
At the time of writing, we’re going 13/2 the field and with some bookies paying 5 places, there’s value to be had. The current favourites are Via Serendipity and Mojito. The former won an all weather event by 5 lengths on his last start beating Masham Star but his 2 previous runs this term, on turf, was disappointing. Mojito meanwhile has excellent 3 year old in the book but has been off for over 600 days. Both have something to prove.
I’m taking 2 against the field, both whom could be classed as ‘out of form’ but both who have the ability and look poised to strike soon.
Key Victory is top weight here for the Charlie Appleby yard and is the first selection. As a 2 year old, he raced once recording a very eyecatching RPR of 97 on debut. He backed that up by beating now 120-rated Old Persian off level weights. If he’s anywhere near that form, he wins this by half the track! He was then pitched into Group 1 company where he was midfield in the French Derby.
This term, he’s been to Meydan for 4 starts, the best of which when finishing a closing 4th in a handicap over this trip but a pair of no shows in 10 furlong races where coming from too far back and not having the best of the draw. His 1 run this season was in the Royal Hunt Cup where the soft ground was against him.
Fast ground coupled with a stiff track and decreasing handicap mark could make the distance and, at 9/1, this potentially class act is worth chancing.
From the Northern yard of David O’Meara, the second horse I cannot leave out of calculations is Escobar. Winless in his last 11 and having posted 3 no shows this season, this looks to be a leap of faith but there are good reasons to get involved.
Firstly, there’s the eyecatching booking of Andrea Atzeni. Secondly, he likes Sandown finishing 2nd twice on his 3 starts here, recording 2 of his top 3 career RPRs in the process. In fact, he was 2nd in this race off 4lb higher last year.
His last win was off a mark of 95 and he’s off 98 today. Since his last win, he’s raced mainly off marks in the 100s but has still finished 2nd in this and 2nd in the Balmoral at Ascot where the winner (giving 3lb) was Sharja Bridge who is now rated 113. A repeat of that run would be good enough here.
PLACED – Back Key Victory (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 Coral BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
PLACED – Back Escobar (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 11.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
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3.15 Haydock: Old Newton Cup
Another cracking handicap, this time it’s at the Lancashire track of Haydock where 17 line up for the Class 2 Old Newton Cup over a mile and a half.
A quick glance at the form, as well as the betting market, suggests this is a 2 horse with Group horse in the making, First Eleven, taking on Zetland Gold Cup winner, Al Muffrih. Both horses won last time out and have rises of 5lb and 6lb respectively to contend with. Of more concern is the fact they are both drawn out very wide and their current odds don’t appeal.
Instead, I’m chancing a pair of longer priced horses to run huge prices at each way prices where the bookies are paying 5 places.
The first of the pair is the Mark Johnston trained Aquarium. It generally pays to follow a MJ middle distance handicapper but even more so in this race where he’s saddle 3 of the last 6 winners.
He’s only a 4 year old but has plenty of miles on the clock, winning 6 of his 33 career starts and finishing placed in half of those including 6 at this level. Despite his experience, he’s unexposed at this trip with this being only his 3rd start over today’s distance.
3 starts ago, he won over a couple of furlongs shorter at Chester and since he’s finished a very decent 7th in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot when not getting the clearest run. He’s often noted as staying on well and that could be a big asset at this flat track with a long straight. He’s well worth an each way punt.
The second selection is the horse Aquarium beat at Chester, Epaulement. I’ll keep this simple; never ever write off a Dascombe/Kingscote runner at Haydock and especially not one that front runs and is drawn to attack. That’s what we have here and it’s interesting that in a field of 17, he looks to have no competition for the lead.
He also has some good form in the book having finished 1st or 2nd in 8 of his 12 career starts. His only real blot on his copybook was a 9th placed finish in the Zetland won by Al Muffrih but he was drawn widest of all in 14 and couldn’t grab the lead. That run can be ignored but it’s interesting he was just 4/1 to win that day. Odds of 20/1 here underestimate his chance.
Back Aquarium (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 15.00 BetVictor BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
PLACED – Back Epaulement (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 21.00 Betfair BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
Back it here: