Sandown provides the best of both worlds on a premium mixed card
As the jumps season reaches its end and the flat takes precedent, this Sandown meeting provides racing of the highest calibre from both disciplines.
15:50 Sandown – Away We Go
While concerns remain over Gary Moore’s Well Refreshed, the nine-year-old has displayed more than enough ability on recent outings to confirm his position as a real contender here.
Landing the Grand National trial at Haydock in February, his jumping was awry at some points over the 3m4f, but Joshua Moore was always in control going round the left-handed track. By the time the last fence came around, she was already leading and put in a commanding run to the line. While his best performances have come on softer ground, it would be inaccurate to call him a mud lark and his proven ability over the distance means he has a proper chance here.
However, this is no formality in a field of this quality and Willie Mullins’ Away We Go offers stiff competition, and after another stellar Punchestown it would be no surprise if the Irish champion trainer transferred his success to Sandown.
Away We Go has recaptured some excellent form on his last two runs. Previously limited to no more than 3m, the ten-year-old proved he has more than enough staying power last time. Finishing second in the Irish Grand National, Mullins’ charge proved that he is a formidable competitor in real stamina tests and with the stable continuing their remarkable form at the end of the season he could just edge it.
15:15 Sandown – Thomas Chippendale
Al Kazeem is the standout option in the field having been last seen winning the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket by four and a half lengths almost a year ago.
The lengthy lay-off and the drop back in trip by two furlongs raises plenty of question marks, but the majority of the main protagonists are having their first run of the campaign, leaving Roger Charlton’s charge the one to beat.
Worryingly, Charlton’s string is struggling for form at present with his last ten runners reaping only one place effort.
In contrast, Sir Henry Cecil has had a strong start to the season, firing in three winners in the last fortnight with over half of runners in that period making the frame.
Consequently the maestro’s Thomas Chippendale, also making his seasonal bow, looks the safer option with Tom Queally aboard. Already three times a winner from only seven starts, only one other in the race has frequented winning enclosures as much and in a race of small margins that confirmed aptitude for the winning line is appealing.
Roger Varian’s horses are not quite finding the middle of the target, but the impression is that second and thirds could soon become winners. Varian’s Ektihaam cannot be discounted having won three times and been runner-up from seven starts, but with the yard not fully firing it could pay to watch rather than wager.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.