2.25 1m2f Class 2 Handicap – Ventura Knight 12/1
Really impressed LTO in a hotter race than this in first time blinkers, although beaten well by an unexposed Forest Of Dean who clearly looked a Group horse in a handicap, Ventura looked best of the rest back in 3rd, he was held up off the pace and came with a powerful run in a race not to suit and Ryan Moore didn’t go hard on him close home.
Today as mentioned looks an easier race, he hasn’t ran at Sandown before but loves galloping courses, he does go up a lb for his last effort which for a distant 3rd doesn’t make complete sense, but nothing to worry about and is still 5lb under last winning mark he recorded under similar conditions in July last year.
Ryan Moore is back onboard who is in great current form, he hit a treble at the Curragh yesterday and has a great record with Mark Johnston the last 5 seasons, Mark himself is having a great season and sends his usual feast of chances out on a Saturday but just the one to Sandown.
3.50 5f Class 5 Handicap – Atyaaf 9/1
Favourite Sheepscar Lad ran another good race in defeat LTO and did have traffic problems but so did Atyaaf who also had 2nd run and was stronger through the line, Atyaaf is only a lb higher than Sheepscar today which does bring them closer together and surely will be a close race if both get a clear run, but at the odds with Atyaaf nearly double the price it pays long term to back the bigger.
Paddy Mathers is back in the saddle who knows the gelding well, he has just the one ride to focus on, just like the trainer Derek Shaw too.
They have a great draw in stall 2, the ground currently good to soft is perfect and also won’t mind it drying any, but one of the biggest plusses is the early speed with Billy Dylan and Archimedes who although is drawn wide, did make all from a bad draw at this course last week, so I’m confident both will make it a real quick tempo and set it up for closers like ours.
Russell Blair Racing.