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14:15 Sandown

Unless trained by Aiden O’Brien or Emmet Mullins, Irish raiders can often go under the radar in the UK. This looks the case here with Steel Bull trained by Michael O’Callaghan. Along with Atalis Bay Steel Bull is the joint highest rated horse in the field and yet is available at more than three times the odds of Atalis Bay. Steel Bull is so highly rated because of high class 2YO form. He won the Group 3 Molecombe Stakes at Goodwood before a 7th place in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on unsuitably soft ground. Incidentally, he was only a couple of lengths behind the impressive French Derby winner St Marks Basillica there. Steel Bull then finished a credible 5th in a Group 2 at Doncaster when meeting all the trouble in running possible.

Steel Bull made his seasonal reappearance at Naas in mid-May when finishing 9th of 10. This was on soft ground which he has shown does not suit. He can improve fitness wise from that run and has the perfect ground for him today.

Atalis Bay is a worthy favourite and has looked capable of winning at this level with some decent performances. Last time out he was second in a Listed race to the classy Winter Power, he was 5L ahead of the rest that day. Winter Power is currently second favourite for the Group 1 Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot next week, so his form stands up.

Warrior Brave is three from 5 since joining the stable of shrewd trainer Mick Appleby. He takes a big leap in class here but is an improving horse. He was 5th to Atalis Bay in April but was only beaten a couple of lengths and has improved since but then so has the winner. When winning at Goodwood in April there was talk from connections of a Royal Ascot sprint handicap its interesting that he now comes here instead.

Nelson Guy was an impressive winner over course and distance in April before finishing 3rd to Warrier Brave at Goodwood when racing much too freely and unable to get cover on the outside. He then again disappointed when tried over 6F. Much happier over todays 5F he is ridden by Ryan Moore who has won on him previously. His win here was impressive, and he is much better than he has shown since, he could be a live threat here if settling, Ryan Moore is certainly capable of helping with that.

If Nelson Guy could be a threat, then Clive Cox’s runner First Edition has to be considered. A creditable 4th in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes last season after winning over course and distance. He made his seasonal comeback at Sandown in the race won impressively by Nelson Guy however he finds himself a massive 19lb better off with that rival here, he is fitted with first time blinkers and a tongue tie here.

Queens Carriage is another Irish raider and won her last two races last season and clinched the hat trick on her seasonal reappearance, that last race was a rather soft 3 runner race over 6F on soft ground and faces much better opposition in vastly different conditions here and must improve.

In the last 11 years only Battash (whatever happened to him!!) in 2017 has won from a double figure price but only 3 favourites have collected in that time. Its worth looking beyond the favourite but not too far.

Atalis Bay showed good form behind a very good horse last time and looks capable of winning at this level; however he faces a couple of rivals who already have decent Group form and are available at much bigger prices. I see Atalis Bay as a false favourite and the two to concentrate on here are First Edition and Steel Bull. Of these Steel Bull is preferred, joint top rated back on his favoured ground and with a run under his belt he can improve to take this race from First Edition. Grab the bull by the horns and back Steel.


written by Steve Marriott


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