In-form Ladys First can conquer the competition at Sandown's Atalanta Stakes, says Alex Hammond.
Last Updated: 31/08/12 2:58pm
British racing fans have been given the good news that Frankel will run in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20 as originally planned rather than the Arc two weeks earlier.
I have mixed feelings about the decision; I'm delighted he is staying in the UK because I'm looking forward to seeing him in the flesh, but to run in the Arc and win it would have silenced all those who feel he has been campaigned in a relatively safe fashion.
From a selfish viewpoint I'm pleased because he is the sort of horse you want to win and be able to say 'I was there'. Let's hope he can remain unbeaten!
After York's Ebor meeting things are much quieter this weekend, but there are some decent betting opportunities with racing at six meetings on Saturday, with the best of the action at Sandown and Beverley.
The Solario Stakes is the highlight on a decent card at Sandown. Seven have been declared for this seven furlong Group Three with Richard Hannon's Master of War the highest rated.
The only concern about this horse is the ground and although it was classed as good at the overnight stage, he wouldn't want it any faster than that and Hannon has said before that some give in the ground is important to him.
So if it is good or faster that detracts from his chances and he also has to prove he stays the trip after five starts over six furlongs to date, but Hannon expects that to suit.
Godolphin's Tha'ir won the Chesham at Royal Ascot and has some of the best form on offer here and will have no problem with the seven furlong trip. A horse that can go very well is Jeremy Noseda's once raced colt Fantastic Moon, the excellent William Buick rides and the stable are in good form.
His only start came in a Novice race at Newmarket over this trip and the second has franked the form by dead heating (in a two-horse race!) at Lingfield.
He should have come on for the experience of that nice introduction to racing and entries in several top races in the Autumn show he is held in some regard. I think he can beat some of his more high profile rivals here en-route to better things.
The Listed Atalanta Stakes looks another decent race on Sandown's card with 16 fillies declared for the mile-long Group Three. I know Richard Fahey hopes Ladys First can run well here after her win over another of Saturday's rivals Dank at Haydock last time out.
She stays well and is well drawn and can make her presence felt once again. As I said, Dank finished second to her last time out, but Sir Michael Stoute's filly still showed signs of inexperience there and should be able to progress again. Mind you, the same can be said of the Fahey filly so there's no saying she will reverse the placings.
Clinical has a 4lb penalty to carry here but she takes a drop in grade and can still run a big race. Sir Mark Prescott ran her in the Group One Nassau Stakes last time out and she finished seventh there, beaten by six lengths by The Fugue. This is an easier assignment than her last couple of runs and conditions suit.
It's hard to discount John Gosden and William Buick this term and they team up with Gathering who has just had the five outings, winning her maiden at Newmarket on her second start. She has subsequently worn some form of headgear and probably is vulnerable again here but the fact she drops back to a mile for the first time this season gives her a shout.
Falls of Lora just beat Ladys First at this track in July but she isn't always the most consistent and isn't guaranteed to reproduce that run here. Richard Hannon steps Dalkova up in grade but feels she's not out of it. However, stable jockey Richard Hughes deserts her to ride Dank for Stoute.
It's a wide open race with lots of trainers hoping to get some 'black type' for these potentially valuable breeding fillies and I'm going to go with Ladys First.
The Beverley Bullet is a highly competitive listed sprint with a field of 16 going to post for this five furlong race. There looks sure to be a strong pace with a few horses that like to front run.
Generally it pays to be drawn low over this trip at the Yorkshire track and old favourite Borderlescott is drawn against the rail in one. Robin Bastiman's 10 year-old may not be the force of old, but he retains plenty of ability and can't be written off. He hasn't won since July 2010, though.
Masamah is the highest rated and he looks to have the perfect draw in seven for Kevin Ryan and Jamie Spencer. His recent form stacks up well, finishing one-and-three-quarter lengths behind Ortensia at Glorious Goodwood and then not being well drawn when beaten by her in the Nunthorpe at York.
Dinkum Diamond actually beat Masamah in a conditions race at Nottingham before the Nunthorpe, but he is eight pounds worse at the weights in this contest. The strong pace will suit Dinkum Diamond though and he can run well for trainer Henry Candy. Pepper Lane comes into the race in great form for shrewd trainer David O'Meara. She won the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last time out with a hood on for the first time and she wears that again here.
The horse she beat there, Tax Free, has franked the form by winning at York's Ebor meeting and providing she remains in the same form can go very well from her draw in stall six if she breaks with some dash. Pabusar represents Ralph Beckett and he isn't without a chance on his best form. Tim Easterby has a couple of chances with Confessional and Ponte Acclaim.
The latter is only a three-year-old, but could go well providing the ground doesn't deteriorate. Brian Meehan sends Elusivity from his Manton base but the horse has to put a bad run at Goodwood behind him. As you can see it's a wide open sprint, but I'm going for the mare in form, Pepper Lane.
Fantastic Moon in the Solario Stakes
Ladys First in the Atalanta Stakes
Pepper Lane in the Beverley Bullet