1.50 5f Group 3 Coral Charge – Caspian Prince 7/1
The oldest competitor in the field at the age of 10 who won the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at Curragh beating double Group 1 winning Marsha 2 years back proving top form at the time, just the 2 wins to his name since which he recorded in good competitive handicaps off big weights last season certainly proving to retain his ability. Not the best of starts this season when a not beating a rival in a tough Group 2 Temple Stakes, but arguably not ready after a long break, he put that behind him when a solid run in a competitive Dash at Epsom where setting up a fast early gallop which would of been tough for anyone to maintain but to try and do it from the highest weight of the race off 10 stone is near impossible, so the performance needs marking up considerably and Group company looks more fitting off his current mark, so looks perfectly placed in a race like this where he’ll also enjoy a slower tempo and should get his own way of things upfront and dictate on ground in his favour. Michael Appleby doesn’t travel to Sandown often and sends just the one there today so obviously aimed for this and the horse is yet to run here but course is very similar to Curragh so should be perfect and he has a nice draw with the higher stalls having more pace, also significantly Oisin Murphy is booked for the first time, yet to ride on the horse but is a big jockey upswing, is having a blinding season and has a great record when teaming up with Mr Appleby.
2.25 1m Class 2 Challenge Handicap – Escobar 11/1
A great race to look forward to and one that looks overpriced is Escobar, just the one win to his name last season for at the time his new trainer David O’Meara, from there he ran in this race where he ran a solid 2nd off the 2nd highest weight in the race off 102, the race wasn’t ran to suit when held up and nothing coming from off the pace that day making that performance very eye catching and a big mark up, he finished the season up and down and added another couple of big places in big handicaps showing there’s a big win in him in the right race. He hasn’t been in the best of form this season in his 3 shows but as a result he’s dropped down to a good mark, 4lbs lower than his tilt in this race last year but the biggest thing that took the eye was the booking of Andrea Atzeni which is a big sign of intent, he’s yet to ride the gelding before and you hardly see David O’Meara reach out for Andrea whose having a brilliant season and is in top current form and rides Sandown well.
3.35 1m2f Group 1 Eclipse – Magical 3/1
Ok hard to back against the best filly that I’ve ever seen, double Arc winner and 7 time Group 1 winner Enable whose class may see her in front on the line, but is her first race for 8 months and trainer John Gosden has stated although happy with her, he feels she’ll come on for the run, also all her Group 1 victories have come over a mile four furlongs, so while she has the speed for this drop in trip, she may fare better over further where she’s a natural plus her only loss has come on fast ground like today and certainly shapes better on softer ground, which makes perfect sence to look elsewhere from a heavy heart. Look no further than Magical that’s in terrific form she’s won her first 3 races this season before a solid 2nd at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales, although she goes on soft ground she found it tough to pick up on the and ground to catch Crystal Ocean but still ran with plenty of credit and for me was still the best horse in the race if they ran on a more sounder surface, she faced Enable last season in the Breeders Cup Turf where she just lost out by under a length, she did cover less ground than Enable that day, so had no excuses and rightly beat, but that was over 1m4f and Magical has found her niche this season over 10f’s and has race fitness and ground onside so for me looks set to break Enables winning streak.