Crunchsports.com's guide to Saturday's racing at Sandown courtesy of BettingPro.com tipster Ross Aylward...
1:30 Bet On Move With coral.co.uk Mobile Handicap 7f16y
Signor Sassi will be many people's idea of the winner of this tricky opener having run well to finish second on his reappearance at Lingfield, with the step up to 7f likely to suit. However, he has been beaten at short prices (evens, 11/8, 4/7 and 7/4) on all four of his starts and might again have to settle for a place. Ivor's Princess has won back-to-back races at Salisbury in good fashion but now has to contend with a rise in the weights and class, which is a comment that also applies to Rocky Reef, who managed to get his in front in a low-grade contest at Chepstow last time. Neither will be helped by their draws out wide.
Nothing really stands out and stakes should be kept to a minimum with better opportunities to come, but TIDENTIME could reward each-way support. A winner of his first two starts last season, he's been contesting some valuable handicaps this term, including the ultra competitive Britannia Stakes last time, and will therefore appreciate this drop in class. I see the handicapper has dropped him 2lb since his last run, which will also help his cause, as will the presence of the in-form William Buick in the saddle.
2:05 Coral Charge (Registered As The Sprint Stakes) (Group 3) 5f6y
Last year's winner Night Carnation has been installed as 9/2 favourite to make it a double and make it three from four on the straight five furlongs at Sandown. She's failed to make the frame in her three starts this season (556) but showed her turn was not far away when running sixth in the King's Stand Stakes last time. The worry with her is the ground as she's never won on anything slower than good and with appreciable rain forecast for the area on the day of the race, it could pay to look elsewhere for the winner.
The King's Stand was also the last stop for Medicean Man (fourth), Spirit Quartz (fifth) and CALEDONIA LADY, who was just a nostril behind Night Carnation in seventh after a slow start and would have finished in front after another stride. The Jo Hughes trained three-year-old has developed a tendency to miss the break and do her best work late on, so Sandown's stiff five should prove ideal. The prospect of soft ground is no concern either as there was plenty of give underfoot when she won at Ayr last season, and I fancy she can reverse form with those who finished in front of her last time and land a 10/1 punt in the process.
2:40 Coral Challenge (Handicap) 1m14y
The sponsors opened the John Gosden-trained Trade Commissioner up as 4/1 market leader for this contest and he's as short as 9/4 now. A late developer having not been seen on the racecourse before this season, he's quickly made up for lost time by winning two of his four starts and being placed on the other two occasions. He's sure to take all the beating here but he has taken a big hike in the weights for his latest win and while that might not stop him, I'd rather back something each-way against him.
Step forward CAPTAIN BERTIE, who never got competitive in the Royal Hunt Cup last time on ground that was probably a shade too quick for him. Prior to that run, he'd put 21 rivals to the sword when winning a hot handicap at Newbury on soft ground, which in turn was making up for a luckless run when fourth in the Spring Mile. Still reasonably treated, he will be hard to keep out of the frame and the 12/1 on offer with William Hill looks solid each-way value.
3:10 Coral Distaff (Listed Race) (Fillies) 1m14y
Gosden fields the favourite in this race too in the shape of STARSCOPE (2/1 likely), who is the clear form choice having finishing second in the 1000 Guineas and then filling the same spot behind stablemate Fallen For You in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot. My first instinct was to take her on as she's been on the go for a while now and has had just 15 days to recover from her latest exertions, but I'm struggling to find one to beat her and, besides, I doubt Gosden would turn her out again so quickly unless he thought she could do herself justice. The main danger looks to be Arsaadi, who also finished second at the royal meeting in the Sandringham Handicap and will be suited by Sandown's stiff mile, but this looks a race for favourite backers.
3:45 Coral-Eclipse (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 1m2f7y
The feature race is poorer for the late withdrawal of So You Think, but it's still a fascinating contest nonetheless and a competitive one at that. Even before the defection of SYT there had been plenty of money around for Godolphin's Farrh and he's now as short as 9/4, which is understandable considering his luckless third to that horse in the Prince of Wales's Stakes last time. I'm not saying he would have beaten the winner that day but he would certainly have given Carlton House a race for second given a better start and a clear run throughout the race, and he's clearly improving at a rate of knots.
This is a further step up in class, though, and he faces stiff opposition from the likes of last year's King George winner Nathaniel, who is entitled to need the run having missed his prep run in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes last time, and Dubai Duty Free winner Cityscape, who is trying 1m2f for the first time. The latter can be forgiven his Hong Kong flop last time as nothing went right for him and he gives every encouragement he will stay the extra furlong. He makes far more appeal than Bonfire, who represents the classic generation but doesn't look up to scratch, and multiple winner Crackerjack King, who will surely be found wanting at this level. However, the potential of FARRH is impossible to ignore and I rate him a decent bet, but wait until the day of the race when ground conditions are known. If the forecast rain doesn't materialise I will be switching allegiance to Cityscape.