Thursday Sandown Tips: Tony Calvin on the Brigadier Gerard evening meeting

Sandown racecourse
All eyes on Sandown

Betfair's top tipster takes a deep look at Thursday evening's Sandown meeting card...

"I always sit up and take notice when a Clive Cox juvenile wins first time up, and it appears Konchek's Newmarket win was not unexpected by his starting price of 2/1. On the downside, the runner-up came out and got stuffed at odds-on at Newbury on Saturday."

ITV4 have caused me some extra work by unexpectedly televising Sandown's Brigadier Gerard evening meeting - well, unexpected before they announced it, anyway - so thanks for that, Chamberlin and co.

But I'd have been doing the card anyway, as I am going to the meeting, so it isn't too much of a hardship. I don't think I will be having too many bets on the night, though.

In fact, I am not putting up a tip on the night here, sorry. I just can't see anything that I am going to be backing at the current prices. Happy to run you through the four ITV races, though.

Opening race is a tough puzzle

The first terrestrial race is the National Stakes at 18:35 and you couldn't have asked for a trickier contest for starters.

Eight of the nine contestants have won, seven of those last time out, and none of the two-year-olds have raced more than three times. And I have quite liked the two runs of the maiden of the party, Adam Tiler, too, just to complicate matters.

I always sit up and take notice when a Clive Cox juvenile wins first time up, and it appears Konchek's Newmarket win was not unexpected by his starting price of 2/1. On the downside, the runner-up came out and got stuffed at odds-on at Newbury on Saturday.

Wedding Date didn't get the run of the race at Chester last time, but still bolted up, and she was probably of most interest at the prices - the Sportsbook were a top-price 6/1 when they first went up on Tuesday afternoon - and the fact the Hannon stable have won five of the last 10 runnings of this race is clearly no negative.

But she is drawn in seven and who knows what she is up against here - Vintage Brut and Sabre hosed up on their debuts, to name just two of the unexposed opposition - and these races tend to make very limited betting appeal to me. This is no different.

Without Parole odds-on but faces a hard task

In the Heron Stakes at 18:35 there was talk that Without Parole was being considered for the 2,000 Guineas after his Yarmouth stroll in a quick time on his reappearance - he had to miss the race with a bruised foot - so there is no surprise that he was installed at odds-on across the board on Tuesday.

And the fact that the horse he gave 7lb and a six-length beating to at Yarmouth came out and won a Newmarket handicap easily off 84 last week probably a shaved a little bit more off the price, too.

He holds entries in the St James's Palace Stakes and the Eclipse, and it wouldn't be in the least bit surprising were he to dot up again in this higher grade.

But he is not meeting mugs here and the form of Gabr's fifth in the Racing Post Trophy is not exactly shabby, not to mention that of other promising three-year-olds from the top yards in here.

Were it not for the fact that Sir Michael Stoute's horses are still tending to need to their comeback runs, I would have recommended Gabr each-way at 7/1+, especially as his pedigree suggests this first outing on quick ground could well suit.

Stoute looks sure to take the feature

But the patchy Stoute stable form is a big enough negative for me - and his Regal Reality was also interesting in here - even if he is surely going to bag a winner in the shape of Poet's Word in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at 20:10.

That is what the betting is forecasting, anyway, as he is around an 8/11 chance to take the 1m2f Group prize.

If anything, that looks a shade on the generous side given he comes here on the back of three Group 1 seconds on his last four starts - we will forgive him his sixth in Hong Kong in December after a long season - and that he is unpenalised for his Goodwood win in early August.

He is officially the best horse in the race on a mark of 118, and he also gets 5lb from Air Pilot and 3lb from Desert Encounter, and they are his biggest form rivals.

Given the form of the yard, and his fast-ground course-and-distance third in the Eclipse last year, I am a touch surprised that Desert Encounter is the fourth favourite at 12/1 with the Sportsbook (though he is currently a bit bigger on the exchange), and I may look to back him without Poet's Word when that market beefs up nearer the off.

Obviously, you could back him each-way in this five-runner field, but one non-runner - and all of Air Pilot's best performances have come with cut, so he is a possible no-show - and you are in a win-only pickle.

Sheikhzayedroad (almost) appeals at the price

The market is in danger of underestimating the claims of Sheikhzayedroad in the Henry VII Stakes at 19:35 at the 5/1 mark, especially as there should be plenty of pace for him to aim at. He was the nearest I came to putting up a bet.

He can be a tricky sort and is getting on a bit as a nine-year-old, but he is a Group 1 winner (albeit in the dim and distant past) and he undoubtedly comes here as the form horse, in my eyes at least, after his length second to Vazirabad in the Dubai Gold Cup in March.

And he had a couple of runs in Group 2 company at Doncaster and York last season which would see him go very close here.
His only run at the track saw him beaten a nose in the 2014 Brigadier Gerard (albeit a three-runner renewal) and I have already mentioned the stable's excellent recent form.

However, I can't seriously say to myself that there won't be a lot more attractive 5/1 chances down the line. And the guiding light of this column is if the bet isn't there, don't force it.

If you think different, then good luck.

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