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2:25pm, 22nd April Sandown – Gordon Richards Stakes

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Only 3 runners, which is perhaps more a sign of the times rather than just an anomaly, but there is a Group 3 prize of £45000 to the winner and the 3 runners we have are all capable of running well at this level on their day. On the balance of his form, Juan Elcano is the outsider of the 3. He won the Wolferton at Royal Ascot last season but has come up short in Group company otherwise and the small field is unlikely to play to his strengths. Mostahdaf sets the bar, he was highly progressive last season and the form of his Newmarket win in October looks far stronger than the other 2. The Goshen yard have been in patchy form so far this season, but he does have a nice profile and although he is 1lb wrong at the weights because of his 3lb penalty, that shouldn’t cause too much concern. There is no doubt that he is the most likely winner, but FOXES TALES also makes some appeal. 

Andrew Balding has his team in good form (5 winners in last 14-days) and his 4-year-old is no back number in this race and would not need to find too much improvement to take this. He won the Golden Gate Handicap at Royal Ascot last summer before going on to win the Rose of Lancaster at Haydock. He beat Fancy Man on that occasion, a horse now rated 109. Whilst his 2nd place finish to Dubai Honour at Newmarket reads very well in hindsight, as that horse went on to win a Group 2 in France before finishing 2nd in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. Although he was beaten on his final start at Ascot, that can probably be blamed on the first-time blinkers that lit him up and it is interesting to see that they are left off here. At the prices, he makes the most appeal in what looks likely to be a tactical race.

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