It looks like a fascinating renewal of this year’s Sandy Lane Stakes as we preview the best of the action for the weekend.
Harry Angel is the favourite for Saturday’s feature race at Haydock. He’s currently around the 11/10 mark and he will be looking to go one better than he did last time out when finishing second on his seasonal debut in Ascot’s Merriebelle Stable Pavillion Stakes (Group 3) earlier this month.
The three-year-old colt looks well suited to this trip, having won his second start over 6f in a Group 2 at Newbury in September and he’ll no doubt prove popular with punters.
Currently at 9/2, Second Thought will be looking to extend his impressive winning run to five in a row. Three of his four wins have come over this trip and he clearly arrives in good heart.
Richard Fahey’s colt Brian The Snail will be looking to bounce back to winning ways after finishing fifth of five at York when last seen but there’s no doubt he is better than that and a return to faster ground should suit. He may be the value play at around the 12/1 mark.
Following the Sandy Lane Stakes, the Curragh will host the Irish 2000 Guineas. The line-up has now dropped to six horses with Aidan O’Brien training half of the field.
The most promising of those is the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner, Churchill. The three-year-old colt has won every race since his third-place finish on debut just over a year ago. Since then O’Brien’s charge has gone from strength to strength and after he claimed back-to-back victories at this course, he then did the same at Newmarket.
He must see off the only horse in this race still undefeated in Irishcorrespondent. The three-year-old colt has victories at Leopardstown and then over this course earlier this month – but this is a much tougher test.
One of the likelier Churchill challengers is Thunder Snow, the three-year-old colt is the first of Saeed Bin Suroor’s horses to run in this race since he won it back in 2005 with Dubawi and he is certainly capable of upsetting the odds. He was admittedly disappointing in the Kentucky Derby when he virtually refused to race, bucking and kicking after leaving the stalls, but the occasion may have got to him and he should be seen in a better light here; the 12/1 available looks a little generous.
However, if one of O’Brien’s trio takes the race, he will be set for a clean sweep of the English and Irish Guineas provided Winter can duplicate the form she showed in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.
Winter is odds-on favourite for the fillies’ classic, which comes as no surprise after running riot over the rest of the field at Newmarket earlier this month. She beat a total of 13 horses to the line, including Hydrangea and Intricately. Both will re-oppose here and they need to find improvement if they are to get involved.
The best of the rest appears to be 5/1 shot, Rehana. The three-year-old filly is trained by Mick Halford and has a little more experience than the favourite in pattern company. She may prove a fair option for punters opposed to backing odds-on shots.
However, it looks like it could be another big weekend for the O’Brien team, as he bids to become the first trainer to land both sets of Guineas either side of the Irish Sea.
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