Horses and jockeys against a Newmarket sunset

25th April 2014

Flat takes centre stage at Bet365 Friday at Sandown Park

The Jump season is drawing to a close and the Flat season is ramping up and the Bet365 meeting at Sandown Park has a great mix of both over the next two days.  Saturday's Bet365 Jump Finale really is Jump racing's end of term party, particularly with the Bet365 Celebration Chase, run for the first time as a Grade 1.

But for the Flat fans, Bet365 Friday is now a card of high quality flat racing - and it has some interesting contests as well as the Richard Hughes's first rides since his fall in Dubai. These are the horses that I am looking foward to seeing on course this afternoon.

The Bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes features the seasonal return of Sir Michael Stoute's Telescope. One time favourite for the Derby, Telescope was 2nd in the Rose of Lancaster at Haydock Park and winner of the Great Voltigeur at York in a season that was blighted by injury. Fragile but a horse that is still unexposed and while connections feel he will need the run, hopefully this is the start of a season where he can show how talented he is.

Also running is Contributor, winner of the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park at the end of March. This will give him a definite race fitness advantage. Godophin's Sky Hunter has his first run in this country after switching from André Fabre, for whom he was third in the Prix de Jockey Club at Chantilly.

In the Bet365 Mile, Garswood was a winner first time out last season at Newmarket and went on to post respectable performances at Pattern level including a 3rd to Moonlight Cloud and Gordon Lord Byron in his last outing  at Longchamp in the Qatar Prix De La Foret. Montiridge,  Richard Hughes' mount, was second in the Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket, however he was previously beaten at Haydock in the Betfred Superior Mile by the flashy chestnut, Top Notch Tonto.

You can never discount Brian Ellison who has a good track record of raiding races at our courses. With his big white face and stockings, (Top Notch, not Brian) he defied expectation to sneak second at British Champions Day in the Queen Elizabeth II stakes and will be a popular runner with the crowds.

In the Bet365 Classic Trial, the market will probably  headed by the unbeaten Western Hymn (currently 4th favourite for the Investec Derby) for the in form John Gosden and William Buick who won on his debut on the All Weather at Kempton. He also won 14 days ago at Newbury and so won't lack for fitness.

Ryan Moore's mount is Master Carpenter, Rod Millman's colt, who sprung a surprise as a fast finishing third in the AON Greenham Stakes at Newbury behind the ultra impressive Kingman. The colt will be going up in trip, but connections believe he has the pedigree to suggest he will stay and he will appreciate cut in the ground. Ryan Moore has the best strike rate of the flat jockeys at Sandown Park and  it would be a popular win for a small yard.

All that and the Jumps Finale tomorrow!