by David Massey

April 23, 2021

Good morning all,

The Flat season is getting into full swing, with Classic Trials left right and centre, and Sandown hold theirs today, the Bet365 Classic Trial at 3.35. That’s one of five races on ITV today, and includes the Highland National from Perth (hurrah!). My thoughts on today’s piece. 

1.50 Sandown – Esher Cup Handicap 1m

3yo handicaps at this time of the year are a bit of a lottery, but I don’t see why top weight Naamoos is the price he is, as he comes here fit, in form, and looks sure to get his way up front again, much as he did at Musselburgh when successful on his seasonal debut earlier in the month. 

Maybe it’s because the second home at Musselburgh, the Johnson  “first” string that day, Forest Falcon, got turned over at odds-on at Newcastle  a few days later that people don’t think the form is solid but I wouldn’t be putting much store in that, and what’s clear from Naamoos’ four starts is that he can’t have the ground quick enough, and will like this stiff finish, having already won easily at Beverley. The speed figure he put up at Musselburgh was a big one, and with fitness assured, he looks sure to go well. 

2.25 Sandown – Gordon Richards Stakes 1m2f

Highest Ground has a verdict over Waldkonig to his name, that coming at Haydock last June, but we now know Waldkonig was a sickly horse last year, having had problems with his teeth, and wasn’t right. He looked magnificent in the paddock at Pontefract on his return (I was there) and despite drifting in the market from odds-on to odds-against, made short work of the opposition in a decent time. He looked much happier and if he can now keep progressing, hopefully he’ll be the horse I thought he might be after his Wolverhampton debut. 

3.00 Sandown – Bet365 Mile

On paper, this looks like Palace Pier’s to lose, as he’s head and shoulders above these on form and even gets 3lb from Happy News due to the conditions of the race (Happy News gets a 3lb penalty for his Group 2 win at Newmarket last October) but he won’t be 100% fit today, with the rest of the season in mind, and a match-fit Khuzaam might be able to give him a race.

He’s clearly improving himself, having thrashed Mum’s Tipple at al on All-Weather finals day at Lingfield, but this will be by far his stiffest task to date. He also has to prove he can repeat it on turf, but if he can, then he’ll have his chance. A race to watch rather than get involved in, though.

3.35 Sandown – Bet365 Classic Trial

Lone Eagle probably has the best piece of 2yo form here, that being his win in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, but that was on much softer ground, but he seemed to act fine on quick ground here on his debut (when just touched off by Recovery Run, who he then beat in the Zetland) and he’s probably the one to beat. 

However, I’m sticking with the Pontefract route, as not long after Waldkonig won, we saw Trawlerman make his reappearance for the year and he too looked fantastic, really well muscled up at the back and he’s clearly wintered well. He absolutely demolished them and looked more a Leger than a Derby type to me, but clearly connections feel he’s worth a crack here with the Derby in mind. I’d be worried about Epsom suiting him, but as far as today goes, the uphill finish will hold no terrors and the speed figure he clocked on quick ground at Pontefract was a big one. I’ll be following him closely this year. 

2.40 Perth – Highland National 3m6½f 

Nationals are like buses, they seem to come in threes and take ages to reach their destination, but here we are.  

This looks ridiculously hard, with any number holding a chance, but I’ll take two against the field. 

Boyhood is bone idle and hard work, as he showed again at Haydock last time, and there’s every chance he’ll drop himself out and give himself too much to do, or even get detached and pull up. To his credit though, he kept at it at Haydock and held every chance on the run in, and was only beaten ½l. Ideally I think he’d want slightly slower ground than he’s likely to get, but you can say that for most of these. Maybe back him in running at a three-figure price and then hope he picks the bit up on the final circuit is the way to go. 

Buck Dancing has some pretty moderate form figures and has only won one of his 17 chase starts but he loves quick ground and has always shaped as if he’s worth a try at a marathon trip. There’s nothing wrong with his second to Doing Fine in a contest arguably as tough as this one, beaten just a length, and he’s a pound lower than that here, so there’s nothing wrong with his mark either. Two runs after a break should see him fitter, and it can only be a plus that that only chase win was here in 2019. He could give you a good spin for your money. 

Today's selection – Buck Dancing (e/w 5 places) 2.40 Perth

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Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TGH Trading Ltd or it's employees.

About the author 

David Massey

David Massey is an on course bookmakers clerk, a Sporting Life race card author, a horse racing punter and of course a regular contributor here at the Daily Punt

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