by Dave Stevos
The second of the Group 3 races on Thursday night at Sandown is the 10f Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Just the 7 runners go to post in this competitive race at 7.40pm, which is unfortunate for each way backers. The ground will be on the quick side of good so there should be no excuses for the market leaders. Time Test has to carry a penalty and he concedes 5lb to the rest of the field.
Intilaaq (Hanagan/Varian) is the current jolly at 15/8 and this 4yo son of Dynaformer will be popular with punters. He showed some decent form last season and he is rated just a pound lower than Time Test at 117, from whom he receives 5lbs in weight. He won 3 out of 4 on home soil last season, including a Group 3 at Haydock (10.5f good to firm) on his final start of the season. His only defeat last term came behind Gleneagles in the Guineas at Newmarket. He reappeared with a cracking effort at Meydan back in March (9f good) when only 3L behind the winner in a Group 1. Ground and trip should be fine and on ratings he should have the measure of Time Test with the allowance he gets in weight.
Time Test (Moore/Charlton) was a winner at Group 2 level at Newmarket last year (8f good) and he also bagged a Group 3 at Ascot (10f good to firm). He also won 3/4 on home turf last season, his only defeat coming behind Arabian Queen at York when the good to soft ground was against him. He stays the trip, he is bred to be a superstar and if he is fully fit he could be hard to beat. However, the lack of a recent run is a big worry and at odds of 11/4 with Paddy Power he doesn’t appeal as being overpriced, especially as he has to carry a penalty. For those reasons I think he is best watched for today.
Western Hymn (Dettori/Gosden) is back to defend his crown in this race and he will be cherry ripe having had two starts this season. I was at Chester when he was runner up to Cannock Chase (G3 10.5f good) and it was a cracking effort seeing as he had to come from well behind. He was closing all the way to the line and I think the return to Sandown will suit him. He was a dual Group 3 winner last year, including this race (good to firm) and he is sure to appreciate coming back to this track. I think he looks a touch overpriced at odds of 4/1 with BetVictor, and he will be hard to beat if things go his way.
Of the rest Scottish is returning after a long absence for a new yard and he is best watched at odds of 8/1 with Betfred. The Appleby yard is ticking along nicely but this could be a bit of a discovery mission, even if he did run well first time up last year for his old yard. Fire Fighting deserves a mention too, but he has it all to do in this field. He is caught between a rock and a hard place at the moment as he is just below Group Level but his options are limited in handicaps off his mark of 106. He should run his usual solid race but it is hard to see him troubling the best of these. Western Hymn is a confident selection for Dettori and Gosden in what should be a very informative race.
Stevos’ Selection: Western Hymn @ 4/1 BetVictor