Horses and jockeys against a Newmarket sunset

28th May 2014

Looking forward to the Cantor Fitzgerald Brigadier Gerard Meeting

Tonight Sandown Park hosts the richest evening fixture of the year, the Cantor Fitzgerald Brigardier Gerard Meeting. It features four Class 1 races including The Listed National Stakes over 5 furlongs for 2yo’s, The Listed Heron Stakes over 1m2f, the 2 mile Group 2 Henry II Stakes and of course the Group 3 Brigadier Gerald Stakes. This year is a cracking renewal.

The two year olds kick off the Class 1 racing in the Listed National Stakes over 5f, won last year by subsequent Royal Ascot and Group 1 winner Rizeena. This year we have a select field of 7 including three unbeaten runners in the form of Cock of the North for Scott Dixon, Bonnie Grey for Rod Millman and Via Via for last year’s winning combination of Clive Britain and Ryan Moore. All have a sole maiden win to their name.

Looking at the more experienced runners in the field, Pat Eddery’s Escalating has progressed with each run, keeping on well to land a conditions race at Ascot last time. With two wins in the last five runnings, Tiggy Wiggy for the Richard Hannon team is sure to be a leading contender. She was beaten in a Listed race last time out at York however that is still the best form on offer.

The final two to mention are Roudee for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote, a winner on his debut however put in his place when receiving weight in a conditions race at Chester’s May meeting and Cajoling for racing’s new big players, Qatar Racing Limited. She didn’t show much on debut finishing 9th of 10 in a Bath maiden, however was an improved filly next time out at Windsor winning with ease. This is a very open renewal however with the level of form she has shown and fillies winning two of the last three runnings, Tiggy Wiggy would be my selection.

The Group 2 Henry II Stakes over 2 miles has been won by top class stayers including Opinion Poll, Geordieland, Persian Punch and Double Trigger. The field is headed by Brown Panther, winner of the Group 2 Goodwood Cup last season and on his seasonal reappearance at Chester. He faces a tougher task this time round with competition from Tiger Cliff, winner of last year’s Ebor Handicap and a close third in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup over the same course and distance on his first start for new trainer Alan King. He has proven himself over the trip, the only doubt may come in that his strongest form is on a quicker surface.

A horse who won’t mind the ground is Cambourne, not always the easiest of rides needing to be held up and often with an awkward head carriage but a talented horse when he puts it all in. This race often attracts international horses, last year it was won by Gloomy Sunday, trained in France by Christophe Ferland and this year we have two overseas contenders in the form of El Salvador for Aidan O’Brien beaten nose in a listed race last time out and Girolamo who represents Peter Schiergen and Germany. The latter was a winner of a Group 2 at Cologne last season but he is taking a large step up in trip. Should he get the distance, he could be an interesting outsider who is proven on soft going.

Oriental Fox is a highly consistent horse in all the large staying handicaps last season, he put up a commendable effort to finish third to arguably the best soft ground stayer around in Tac De Boistron at Ascot on first run of the season. The final one to mention is Grade 1 hurdler and chaser, Menorah who is having his first ever run on the flat at the age of 9. As a Cheltenham and Aintree Festival winner there is no doubt he has class but given his latter performances have showed a liking for longer distances it would be no surprise to see him lack a bit of speed compared to his rivals. That said should the race turn into a slog you can guarantee he will keep galloping longer than most.