Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sandown's Eclipse

After suffering a severe case of Centre Court sunburn last week while watching Safin demolish Djokovic, this week I am presented with another case of Tim Henman struggling to reach the semi-finals, much as he used to in his playing career; this time, in his commentator's role, he's losing his voice rather than a match. A cheap shot, I know, but I just couldn't resist... Even the racing seems to have picked up the tennis theme - New Balls Please finished fourth in a seller at Chepstow last night while the winner of the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot, Fifteen Love, looks to have good chance in the Toteswinger at Sandown on Saturday.

The Eclipse takes centre stage at Sandown with nine set to go to post. Although it doesn't look the strongest renewal, a number of the runners appear closely matched. The weather forecast isn't particularly good for the weekend; as always, it will be important to take account of underfoot conditions. The all-conquering Ballydoyle operation field Mount Nelson who is sure to be popular. Of the two Henry Cecil runners, stable jockey Ted Durcan has chosen Phoenix Tower; his second behind Duke Of Marmalade at Royal Ascot reads well. The problem with the form is that Pipedreamer was just a short-head away in third and Stotsfold wasn't that far behind in sixth having started slowly. Of the market leaders I prefer Phoenix Tower, but, writing in the Weekender, Walter Swinburn is bullish about Stotsfold's chance and he looks the value. Stotsfold, 28/1 with William Hill, rates an each-way wager provided the rain stays away. In the ante-post market for this race some bookmakers bet a quarter the odds a place while others bet a fifth; check before placing your bets.

On official ratings Hoh Mike is the one in the opener and is likely to be priced accordingly; last year he collared Wi Dud in the final fifty yards to win this going away. Both horses are well drawn this year but I like Wi Dud and will consider an interest if the ground is on the easy side.

The Wetherbys Vat Services Stakes at 4.30 is run over two miles. Finalmente held Balkan Knight a head in soft ground over course and distance at the end of May. Balkan Knight's handler David Elsworth has a good record in this race - the horse looks weighted to reverse placings here, although he has tended to show his best form when easy conditions prevail.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

The line just didn't come in time for Phoenix Tower (5/2f) who was beaten a short head by the fast finishing Mount Nelson (7/2). Stotsfold (25/1) was ridden handily and had every chance if good enough but appeared to lack a turn of foot, finishing sixth.
Wi Dud (8/1) ran better than of late to finish fourth, half a length behind Hoh Mike (13/8f) who finished third to Ancien Regime.
Although the ground was on the firm side, it was still a most disappointing effort from Balkan Knight (6/1) to finish sixth of the seven runners without ever threatening. On a line through Finalmente (fourth), he's better than this.