Sandown Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's best bets on the Brigadier Gerard card

Sandown race finish
Tony gives his thoughts and best bets for Sandown's evening card

Thursday evening's Brigadier Gerard card is just one of Sandown's Flat season highlights, and here with his thoughts and tips is Tony Calvin...

"Everything looks set for another big run, and he simply looks rock-solid. I couldn't put anyone off backing him, even if only as a saver and to ensure you don't lose on the race."

Back Greenside at 5.04/1 or bigger at 20:40 at Sandown

Reality is that Regal deserves to be favourite

No ITV cameras this year, but yet another excellent Brigadier Gerard meeting at Sandown on Thursday night - it's a lovely card to attend and the weather looks to be set fair, with good (watered) ground expected - and Regal Reality will take all the beating in the headline race at 19:35.

If he stays.

He is clearly not the usual price we play at, though - or indeed one that this column is primed to identify, in truth - and the question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to be taking a short-ish price about a horse going up 2f and racing over 1m2f for the first time.

He is by Intello, which would give you every hope that it will suit, and certainly Regal Reality's run-style would give you a fair bit of encouragement too, especially his win over 1m at Goodwood last season, for all that race may have fallen into his lap somewhat.

He shaped really well when third, again over a mile, here on his reappearance, his stable are in really good nick and I strongly suspects that if he truly lasts home then he will win.

But that is a fair doubt, and he currently only has 1lb in hand of his main rival on official figures, with Matterhorn setting an in-form and high standard at this trip after his seriously impressive Lingfield win and his Huxley Stakes second, and Danceteria a dangerous up-and-comer.

It's a thanks but no thanks at around 7/4, though I think he should be the favourite (some books originally made Matterhorn their market-leader).

Authority could have a Proper rival in the National Stakes

There is no surprise at all to see Full Authority such a strong favourite in the National Stakes at 18:35 as he did look very sprightly indeed when making all in a quick time at Chester on his debut.

He went off 11/4 favourite there, so he clearly had been showing a bit at home as well, but this will represent a different test for him than breaking well and bagging the rail at Chester. And it was also soft ground there, too.

Then again, this Kingman colt has got the favoured stall one here, so it will probably be the same again as regards tactics and track position, and you have to suspect that he could be hard to peg back once again if he does break similarly sharply.


But he clearly meets five fair sorts here and you had to love the way that Proper Beau, in particular, travelled so powerfully throughout the contest on the near-rail at Musselburgh on his debut and saw off a wide-margin subsequent winner, with the third seven lengths away.

Owner Robert Ng (has the likes Romanised in training) has bought into him since Musselburgh, and I suspect that Proper Beau could be the one to put it up to the favourite and may even beat him from stall two.

If I were to play in the race at the current prices, it would be Proper Beau.

Two cracking races but two difficult puzzles to solve

The Henry VII Stakes at 19:05 has attracted a small field of six but it is no easier to solve for it.

Dee Ex Be could be a stayer to reckon with this season on the evidence of his Ascot return and is the right favourite, his stablemate Austrian School can probably be forgiven his last run, and the other Mark Johnston horse in here, Making Miracles, didn't look too bad when winning that Chester Cup by six lengths.

Mekong could easily be another going places this season as well, and then we have last year's 6-length winner Magic Circle, who is expected to be all the better for his Chester comeback and who will appreciate the better ground.

It looks a no-bet race to me.

The Heron Stakes at 20:10, is another cracker but it is the shape and make-up of a race that regularly leaves me scratching my shiny bonce.

Eight runners (so you have the possible non-runner angle to contend with if you are playing each-way on the fixed-odds front) and all are promising, unexposed, lightly-raced 3yos.

I can't have a betting opinion in those circumstances - King Of Comedy looked good here on his debut last season and again at Yarmouth last time - and handicaps are more my bag these days.

Rock-solid Greenside the one to beat

Greenside could take plenty of stopping in the 20:40.

He was a massive market-springer when fourth in the Spring Cup (got messed around a bit in the final furlong) and then did it really well at Windsor last time. He has gone up only 4lb for that success, and he has run three crackers at this track, including when second in this race in 2017.

Everything looks set for another big run, and he simply looks rock-solid. I couldn't put anyone off backing him, even if only as a saver and to ensure you don't lose on the race.

Looking back at his Windsor win, he won with a lot of authority there and the well-handicapped (if inconsistent) second ran a blinder when a close third at Newbury on Saturday. The more you look, the more a 4lb rise for that could have been pretty generous.

If you are looking for an alternative, course-and-distance winner Kitaabaat, gelded since his last run, is a possible, but most other roads led to History Writer.

Perhaps unfortunately, as he has been something of a "cliff horse" for quite a few - I am signing in - ever since he was devilishly impressive in beating a fair sort in Ledham here last August.

The handicapper must be a fan, too - though, of course, they can't bet - as he has only dropped him 1lb since for his five defeats since.

However, hope springs eternal and he did catch the eye once again when eighth in the Spring Cup, his first start after being gelded.

That Newbury track has been very hard to read this season - track position has been key on a few occasions, and the ground has been difficult to gauge, too - but there is no denying that History Writer shaped really well from miles off the pace there.

The assessor has point-blank refused to drop him even 1lb for being beaten nearly 9 lengths last time, but you do still get the impression that this horse has a handicap in him off this mark.

But I think Greenside is entitled to be a fair bit shorter than History Writer, so Henry Candy's bang-in-form 8yo has to be the call at 5.04/1 or bigger. He is still on the same mark as when winning here back in 2017.

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A pair of each-way shouts in the opener

Back to the opener at 18:00, and the three that interested me initially were My Boy Sepoy, Jumping Jack and Cogital.

The first of that trio off the list was Cogital as I am not convinced 1m2f is his optimum trip - although he ran okay over course-and-distance behind Beringer last season - and he didn't really shine over 1m at Bath on his reappearance. And a draw in 13 is hardly ideal.

The other two were harder to split, though.

Jumping Jack's fitness has to be taken on trust as we haven't seen him since December - he was probably ready for a long break after a very busy spell over Flat and jumps in the previous 18 months - but trainer Chris Gordon has won with three of his last five runners and this horse ran well when fourth behind easy winner Pivoine over track and trip here last June.

The first bookmaker to price up the race on Wednesday afternoon went 16/1 (quickly cut to 10/1). He is fairly drawn in seven, and My Boy Sepoy is drawn next door in six.

Stuart Williams seems to have turned a corner form-wise with a few recent winners and a forcing ride over a stiff 1m2f could exactly what My Boy Sepoy wants, even though his pedigree says otherwise.

He looked beaten before coming back for more late on when winning at Bath last September from a dual 2018 subsequent scorer - he hit 95.094/1 in running at the furlong pole, though the commentator certainly helped - and he again shaped as if he would improve when the emphasis is put more on stamina when sticking on well on his reappearance at Lingfield.

Decent ground is what he wants, and he is also unexposed over this trip. He steps back down in a grade to a 0-75 here and hopefully he gets a positive ride at or near the front end.

I make Jumping Jack my main bet, with My Boy Sepoy as shorter-priced back-up. The Betfair Sportsbook are going four places in this 14-runner handicap, so back them both each-way at 10/1 and 5/1 respectively.

Good luck all.

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