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I’m not willing to abandon Hurricane Ivor just yet. He looked a monster on debut as a juvenile when trained by Chappet in France and went off 4/5 for the Group 3 Prix Du Bois but ran poorly.
He bolted up on reappearance last year at Chantilly and while not hitting the heights expected of him, he did win a conditions race at Chantilly (subsequent DQ due to the presence of a banned substance).
He switched to the William Haggas yard and made his debut for him at York off a mark of 98 but ran poorly so the handicapper dropped him 4lbs. Saturday’s 5f on this stiffer track will suit him and he is surely going to win a nice handicap off this sort of mark this season.
It can be difficult for three-year-old sprinters against the older horses, but they have won this seven times in the last 10 years. Atalis Bay and Happy Romance are the three-year-olds in the field, but neither wants easy ground.
Came From The Dark was a progressive handicapper in 2019 and relished testing ground so he was a little pigeon-holed him as a soft-ground horse.
Last year, he had two cracking runs at Haydock in two good handicaps but disappointed in three starts away from Haydock. He seems to have improved massively this season.
He was unlucky not to win on reappearance at Musselburgh over 5f off 99, but was trapped out in the middle of the track when the stands side rail was the place to be, but was only beaten a neck.
He did win at Newbury next when beating Garrus (was only beaten less than three lengths in the Diamond Jubilee when fifth) and Kings Lynn (won at Listed level and was narrowly beaten in the Wokingham when 3/1 favourite).
It was thought that good to firm ground at Newmarket would be too lively for him in the Palace House Stakes but he was only beaten a neck by the re-opposing Lazuli and didn’t get the clearest of runs.
Harlem Soul is related to Ispolini (rated 110 & stayed two miles), Vivionn (rated 102 and stayed one mile and six furlongs) and Playful Sound (rated 100).
He’s by Frankel so stamina is no issue and the ground shouldn’t be an issue unless it gets really soft.
He didn’t win in three starts in maidens and novice races, but did run well in two of them. He was a good winner on his handicap debut at Ripon a couple of weeks ago over one mile and four furlongs off a mark of 80.
A 4lb rise looks lenient and Harlem Soul shapes like he could improve plenty for stepping up to a one mile and six furlongs.
Uncs was impressive on debut over course and distance though may have been a little flattered as the jockey on the second dislocated his shoulder about a furlong out and couldn’t ride a proper finish. It was still a decent closing sectional from Uncs and he can continue the George Boughey team’s cracking form.
Escobar was terribly unlucky not to win this race in 2018 (off 102), having to sit and wait until switching out and running on into second when getting out in the clear.
He was very unlucky not to win again in 2019 when the slowly away as the blindfold was taken off late and he was second beaten a little over a length (off 98). He was in fine form that season, placing in the Golden Mile at Goodwood and two good handicaps at Ascot before winning the Balmoral off a mark of 105. He campaigned at Group level last season as rating peaked at 111.
He hasn’t been consistent this season but did run a massive race in the Victoria Cup off a mark of 103, when not getting a clear run, but flew home for a close third. He’s come back down to that mark and handles easy ground better than most and clearly likes the track.
Alpinista is rated 113 and next best is Tribal Craft on 106 and Dubai Fountain off 105, but the latter gets the 12lb allowance for three-year-olds.
Mystery Angel is rated 100 and ran well when second in the Oaks but was still beaten 16 lengths.
Alpinista is a dual listed winner who last season was second to Love in the Yorkshire Oaks and was touched off in a Newmarket Group 3. Makawee and Mystery Angel might ensure this is run at a good clip. That will suit Alpinista who is crying out for a test of stamina.
Statement is the clear on ratings. She is rated 106 and Aunty Bridy the only other member of the field that is rated over 100 (and I wouldn’t be certain she is worth that 103 rating).
Tom Marquand rides Ready to Venture and is bred to be good, being by Kingman out of a half sister to George Washington. She didn’t stay 10 furlongs on soft ground at Goodwood last time and was third on her reappearance behind Creative Flair who has won at listed level since and Auria.
Ready To Venture shaped like she really needed the run and think she can reverse form with Auria. Haggas has won this race the last two twice and might be able to land the hat-trick here.
The visor seemed to light Brilliant Light up at Ascot when he was far too keen and didn’t get home over one mile and six furlongs.
The visor is off now and he drops back to a mile and a half. He ran well out in Meydan, placing in a competitive handicap over one mile and four furlongs off a 93 rating and then finished third in a Group 3 over one mile and six furlongs and fourth in a Group 2 over one mile and four furlongs. Marco Ghiani is a jockey in form and takes a valuable 3lbs off.
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I couldn’t knock the progress shown by Mishriff last season who won a Listed race at Newmarket and then followed up in the French Derby. He then defied a penalty in a Deauville Group 2 on heavy ground.
He was disappointing in the Champion Stakes at Ascot but bounced back to win the Dubai Turf in Saudi. Ballydoyle’s St Mark’s Basilica was a good two-year-old, winning the Dewhurst. He’s won the French Guineas and French Derby this season really impressively, showing a blistering turn of foot.
This could develop into a tactical affair and that turn of foot could prove crucial.
Run To Freedom took a huge step forward from his debut last season when finishing second at Kempton and followed that by beating Highland Avenue (now 110 rated) in a Kempton maiden.
I was very keen on his reappearance here last month when a close second to Silent Film off a mark of 88 and while he has gone up 3lbs, he looks like he could easily defy that rise if learning to settle. If that run has taken the fizz out of him, he might prove to be very well handicapped.
Frank Hickey’s best bets for Saturday:
Sandown 13:15 – Hurricane Ivor
Sandown 13:50 – Came From The Dark
Haydock 14:05 – Harlem Soul
Beverley 14:17 – Uncs
Sandown 14:25 – Escobar
Haydock 14:40 – Alpinista
Sandown 15:00 –Ready to Venture
Haydock 15:15 – Brilliant Light
Sandown 15:35 – St Mark’s Basilica
Sandown 16:45 – Run To Freedom
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