CRYSTAL OCEAN (2.25) takes a dramatic step back in distance but should still be classy enough to land the Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at soggy Sandown.
Crystal Ocean is the quality horse in the 1m 2f contest having split Capri and Stradivarius in the St Leger, but whether he will be sharp enough on his seasonal debut at this much shorter distance is a mute point. However, he showed plenty of pace when spread-eagling his rivals in the 1m 4f Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and there is plenty of rain forecast which plays to his strengths.
Fabricate carries the Queen’s colours and will have fitness on his side following a recent Kempton victory in Listed company. This 10f seems to be his best trip.
In the Group 2 bet365 Mile, ADDEYBB (3.35) was so impressive in winning the Lincoln Handicap on soft ground that he may be worth chancing now taking a sharp rise in grade.
Another soft ground performer, Here Comes When, is the each-way alternative trading around 6-1 but William Haggas has been making bullish noises about Addeybb.
MERLIN MAGIC (1.50) has been given a chance by the handicapper in the bet365 Esher Cup.
David Elsworth’s Camelot colt landed a warm maiden at Nottingham last October, making all to beat Sam Gold and Sevenna Star (well touted in the Classic Trial at 3.00). Merlin Magic was then pitched into Group 1 company and wasn’t disgraced (ninth) behind Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy at Donny.
His official mark of 88 catches the eye and Elsworth has booked Silvestre De Sousa, who was on top for that Nottingham success last autumn.
Hot favourite Kings Shield has won both his starts on the all-weather and could be anything. There are some heavy showers forecast for the Esher area so quite how effective he will prove on soft ground is anybody’s guess.
DIAMOND DOUGAL (4.05) scored with plenty in hand at Bath last Friday and should make a bold bid to follow up under his 6lb penalty. Franny Norton is a good booking.
At Doncaster, KNIGHTLY SPIRIT (1.40) can continue Roger Varian’s bright start to the season by landing the opening 1m 2f handicap.
He was just over a length behind Ship Of The Fen when they occupied the places at Goodwood and enjoys a 7lb pull at the weights.
- Sandown 2.25 – Crystal Ocean (6-5, bet365)
- Sandown 3.35 – Addeybb (7-4, Ladbrokes, bet365)
- Sandown 1.50 – Merlin Magic ew (13-2, bet365)
- Sandown 4.05 – Diamond Dougal (9-4, bet365)
- Doncaster 1.40 – Knightly Spirit (3-1, bet365)
Johnb's Friday Tips
- Punchestown 5:30 – Melon 3-1 NB
- Chepstow 7:35 – Heresmynumber 3-1 NAP