The Weekend Wager: Check Out Our Best Bets At Sandown And Haydock On Eclipse Day
What a weekend of sport we have ahead of us! There's a small matter of a quarter-final at the 2020 Euros for England. who face Ukraine in Rome, while for those that enjoy a bit of greyhound action they will relish watching the two semi-finals of the Star Sports & TRC Greyhound Derby at Towcester on Saturday night.
But, here at HorseRacing.net, we focus our attentions on an alternative four-legged performer, and the equine talent hitting the track this weekend will be the highlight for many with the Group One Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown providing the obvious showpiece. However, with only four going to post, it's a disappointing punting conundrum, and we look elsewhere for our best bets of the weekend.
14:25 Sandown - Coral Challenge
Last year's impressive Coral Challenge winner Montatham will look to retain his Sandown Park crown when he lines up in the 14:25 race on Saturday afternoon. But, the William Haggas-trained raider will have a tougher assignment on his hands this year, as he will be running off a 9lb higher mark, and while he will improve for his first run at Doncaster, where he finished third, Montatham could just come up shy on repeating his 2020 win.
A lot of runners in this contest competed in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and it was Beat Le Bon that finished closest to the winner Real World in that one-mile event, and Richard Hannon will be hoping that his raider can improve on that fifth place finish in the Hunt Cup.
One runner not seen in the Hunt Cup was ACQUITTED, who was last seen finishing second at Chelmsford City on the all-weather. Prior to that he had finished ninth in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, but it was his first run of the season that would see him go close, if replicating it here. Hugo Palmer's inmate was a narrow second in the hugely competitive Spring Mile at Doncaster, and while he is running off a 5lb higher mark here, a replication of that form could be enough to see him claim glory.
He competed in this event 12 months ago, but was last of nine, which is a slight worry, but with the blinkers and tongue tie appearing to aid him at Chelmsford last time out, then the application of them again on Saturday is another positive. Only last season he chased home the mighty Palace Pier at Newcastle, and he will certainly not have a rival in that sphere to deal with here, so it's worth taking a chance on Acquitted producing the goods on the day.
14:40 Haydock - Lancashire Oaks
There's a fascinating seven-race card at Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon, and one of the main events on the card is the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks, which is off at 14:40 and sees nine contenders go to post. Sir Mark Prescott's Alpinista is the market leader, at the time of writing, and if she can replicate the form that saw her chase home the mighty Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last season then she will take all the beating.
But, the one that is worth backing is the Mark Johnston-trained DUBAI FOUNTAIN, who is looking to bounce back from a mediocre run in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. An impressive winner of the Cheshire Oaks on her first run of the season, the daughter of Teofilo then failed to land any sort of blow when down the field in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom Downs. She then was well backed for the Ribblesdale last month, but while she improved on her Epsom run, she could only finish fifth to Loving Dream.
Now, taking on her elder rivals in this event, Dubai Fountain will benefit from a significant weight pull from her older adversaries, and while she will need to recapture her early season Chester form she is still an exciting three-year-old filly that can reign supreme here. A winner on her sole visit to Haydock as a juvenile, Dubai Fountain will hope a return to the venue can help her get back on a winning thread, and she looks the bet in a cracking renewal.
15:00 Sandown - Coral Distaff
Martyn Meade's Statement shaped with extreme promise when second to Alcohol Free in the Fred Darling Stakes at the start of the season, but things quite haven't worked out for the Lawman filly. Sent off 7/1 for the 1000 Guineas, she could only finish eighth in the fillies' Classic, while last time out she was well fancied to claim glory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom, but she had to settle for third spot.
Now, another winnable race has been found for her, and she will be a warm order for the Coral Distaff, which is off at 15:00 at Sandown on Coral-Eclipse day. But, as short as 15/8 for this event, at the time of writing, Statement is no betting proposition, and the shortness of her price means there's value elsewhere.
Roger Charlton's LUCID DREAMER locked horns with Statement in the Fred Darling earlier in the season, but hasn't been since. But, the unbeaten two-year-old has to be respected, if she can recapture her juvenile form, and at double-figured odds she is worth taking a chance on here. She ended last season with a taking win over Teodolina at Newbury, and she shaped like she could prove to be a really smart filly throughout her three-year-old campaign.
A disappointing run in the Fred Darling leaves a question mark hanging over her head, but she has shown during her fledgling career that she can get her head in front, and if the lightly-raced daughter of Dansili can bounce back to top form then she can play a major role here.
15:15 Haydock - Old Newton Cup
Arguably the toughest betting heat of the day is the Old Newton Cup, which is run at 15:15 at Haydock Park. Seventeen will go to post for the 1m 3f 175y handicap event and Sir Mark Prescott, who will be hoping Alpinista can claim Lancashire Oaks glory earlier in the afternoon, will be hoping for more big-race success with Longsider, who won impressively at Lingfield in February, and is well fancied to play a starring role here.
Zabeel Champion and Grand Bazaar locked horns at Newmarket a couple of months ago, and they are another duo worthy of a mention, while Roger Varian's Valyrian Steel is going in search of a hat-trick of wins, and has to be a key contender for this event.
But, it's worth taking a chance on the Simon & Ed Crisford-trained AADDEEY, who will enjoy a return to a quicker surface on Saturday, after he struggled to land a major blow in rain-softened conditions in a Royal Ascot handicap last month. Well fancied for the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, the son of New Approach could only finish in fifth spot, as he was no match for the impressive Quickthorn.
Prior to that run he had been a runaway winner at Newmarket, and soared to a mark of 100 for that Ascot assignment, and he will line up off the same figure on Saturday. A winner on good ground at Flat HQ earlier this season, Aaddeey will hope that the rain stays away from Haydock, and if it does then he can prove to be a progressive handicapper, who can use this race as a springboard to potential Group events in the second half of the season.