The Flat season may be starting wind down – but don’t think we won’t see a star this weekend in the Solario Stakes a race with such a rich history.
We can go back to 1984, when the filly Oh So Sharp landed the prize for Sir Henry Cecil and Lester Piggott. She would be a Triple Crown winner the following year and turn into one of the greatest fillies I have ever seen. On a par with Enable. More recently, John Gosden has dominated the event, and sent out Raven’s Pass to score in 2007. He would later be a QEII hero and bang in a Breeders’ Cup Classic on an artificial surface.
The brilliant Kingman won the Solario for Gosden in 2013, and the Newmarket handler also trained Too Darn Hot to win just 12 months ago. In between the Gosden big wins, Charlie Appleby had his Derby hero Masar bag a Solario in 2017.
Sandown’s Group 3 feature is one of four races from the Esher track on Saturday and with contests from Beverley and Chester – there’s something for everyone.
Saturday’s renewal at 15.35 is headed by Positive, handled by Clive Cox. He looked like a classy colt when winning at Salisbury and then he went to Goodwood and chased home Pinatubo in the Vintage Stakes, albeit at a distance of five lengths. Visinari reopposes having also been in that contest, way back in fourth place.
Positive would give next year’s 2,000 Guineas favourite Pinatubo a huge form boost if scoring, although he’s hard for me to fancy as he’s owned by Chelsea man Alan Spence. As a Tottenham supporter I struggle to cheer home a Spence animal!
I am sure Visinari is much better than his Goodwood effort, and suspect trainer Mark Johnston will have been shocked at his comprehensive defeat. A big animal, he may be better in time if he does not bounce back here.
Kameko goes for Qatar and Sheikh Fahad, with the excellent Oisin Murphy on board. A son of Kitten’s Joy (like the owner’s star colt the now sadly passed Roaring Lion) and unbeaten in one run over course and distance, Kameko is expected to stay further in time for Andrew Balding but cannot be dismissed.
Neither can Eshaasy, a Hamdan colt trained by Gosden and a winner at Kempton last time, or Hector Loza, a rare runner at this level for Simon Dow after two wins at Chelmsford and Lingfield.
However, I’m betting Charlie Appleby holds the key with Godolphin’s AL SUHAIL.
He was second on his debut to Al Madhar at Newmarket, and then went to Yarmouth and hacked up at short odds. He sweated and pulled hard that day, but I suspect he will have learnt a lot from the experience.
A son of Darley’s prize stallion Dubawi – Al Suhail is bred to stay being out of a Shirocco mare
The other Group 3 contest at Sandown is the 1m Atalanta Stakes at 15.00 that precedes the feature race.
JUBILOSO is the obvious one here after being given too much to do at Goodwood last time.
She was third in the Coronation at Royal Ascot and should outclass this lot for Sir Michael Stoute.
Of the others, Duneflower cannot be ignored as she has won her last two at Doncaster and Ascot and stayed on well last time. Has 5lb to find on ratings.
Look Around was behind Duneflower on her latest effort, while Lavender’s Blue might be capable of more but is hard to fancy.
The ITV coverage starts at 13.50 at Sandown with a 5f handicap. A good draw brings MOUNTAIN PEAK into the mix, and he might have an each-way chance. A good winner two runs ago for Ed Walker, my hope was far from disgraced behind some of these at Ascot last time.
Next up at Sandown is a 1m 2f handicap at 14.25. COUNTRY has a good draw and gives Liam Jones a huge chance of a tasty TV success. He’s up 5lb for the latest win but can overcome that as he looks to be improving fast.
Meanwhile, over at Beverley ITV show the 14.05, a handicap over 1m2f. DARK VISION was in front of Good Birthday recently and can confirm the form for Mark Johnston. Has a good draw to work from.
Also at Beverley is the 15.15, a Listed sprint over 5f. Track and draw are not ideal for COPPER KNIGHT, but he is so tough I’ll have a few quid on him each-way for Tim Easterby. With a good break he will be bang there.
Chester hosts the Listed 1m 6f Chester Stakes at 14.45 and with a rating of 105, OUTBOX will be hard to catch for Simon Crisford. Jockey Andrea Atzeni takes the ride for his retainer on the back of a good third at Newmarket.
So let’s hope there’s a few Yeeehaaas in here on Saturday. You hear me Paddy?
*Prices correct at time of publishing