On the face of it, this looks a wide open 5f sprint for two-year-olds, but the stats all lead to one place.
The Richard Hannon team are renowned for their two-year-olds and have really dominated this sphere for a number of years with both father and now son in charge of the yard. This race is no different and in fact the yard have won six of the last nine renewals of this contest. Today they look to have yet another strong contender in the form of the exciting speedster Mehmas. The horse won well over this minimum trip at Chester on debut before easily turning over an odds-on Global Applause to land the spoils over 6f at Newbury. That looks pretty strong form in the context of this race especially with that rival re-opposing here and while many of the main rivals are of course open to improvement, Mehmas also is entitled to come on again in only its third outing to the race track. The irreplaceable Frankie Dettori takes the mount today and that only further strengthens the claims and so it gets the confident nod here.
Mark Johnston’s Chupalla looks the main threat after blitzing the field from a wide draw to score by six lengths on debut at Kempton. Open to any amount of improvement on only its second outing, it would be no surprise to see it run the selection close, but the selection’s greater experience may just be telling here tonight.
Another who cannot be discarded is Copper Knight for the in-form Hugo Palmer team. The horse improved in each of its first two runs and made the frame both times before landing the Lily Agnes at Chester in decent fashion. But will likely need to improve again on that effort to feature here so may have to settle for the minor placings once again.
The Brigadier Gerard Stakes is always a highly competitive and fascinating contest and this year’s renewal looks no different.
Intilaaq for the Roger Varian team is the likely favourite. The four-year-old colt looked destined for big things last season when one of the principles in the market for the Guineas, he ultimately disappointed that day, but did recover to sign off the season in stye by landing a listed race and Group 3 back to back. He may have need the run when disappointing in his comeback at Meydan recently this term and should strip fitter for this one, but now has a few questions to answer as to whether it has trained on and he may be vulnerable to an improver.
The one class horse in the race who should be able to pounce is Roger Charlton’s Time Test. The Classy Dubawi Colt was impressive as a three year old winning a Group 2 and 3 as well as a valuable handicap. A recent entry in a Group 1 in Ireland, where he was a non runner due to the ground, would suggest the horse has trained on and there is clearly confidence in him from the yard so he may just have too much class for them in this one despite the penalty. The assistance of champion jockey Ryan Moore should aid the cause further and the fact the horse won on seasonal reappearance last season means he is the selection.
The main danger will likely come from Western Hymn who returns to defend the title he won last season. John Gosden’s four year old ran a blinder last time out when just failing to concede weight to Cannock Chase in the Huxley, but got going too late that day. The concern for this one is that he has made a bit of a habit of being the bridesmaid in his last four outings so has questions to answer today.
TIME TEST (WIN)
The lucky last at Sandown is a handicap contest over the mile trip and it is certainly a competitive enough field so it may pay to stick with a horse who knows its way around the track.
The horse in question is Jacob Black for Scottish trainer Keith Dalgleish. Undoubtedly, the stable’s star last season, the five year old had a decent campaign last term despite only winning once and he seemed to progress with every outing in terms of rating. Reunited tonight with Frankie Dettori who has previously steered the horse to victory over course and distance in almost identical conditions so he must have a big chance here tonight. The horse also goes well fresh, has a plum draw and not only won this contest 12 months ago, but has won on seasonal debut before as a three year old as well so he looks like a no-brainer each way bet here.
There are plenty of dangers in a tightly grouped field, but the one who might pose the biggest threat is the unexposed Heatstroke. Charlie Hills horse left his debut form well behind when hacking up in maiden company to win at only the second attempt, but injury problems since mean the horse hasn’t seen the track since October 2014. It would be a tremendous training performance to see the horse return and win after that kind of absence. The nicely bred Galileo Colt may be one to follow off the back of this run if it shows any kind of ability here, but the safer bet still lies with the selection.
Another horse who could easily take part here is Jailawi. The five year gelding overcame a long absence to land a handicap is comfortable fashion at Lingfield last time out and would be entitled to come on for that run, but he has another 5lb on his plate here and a tricky wide draw to overcome.
JACOB BLACK (E/W)