A high quality six furlong Group 2 contest restricted to three-year-olds only, many of whom have smart form at sprint distances as juveniles
With £90,000 in prize money and a perfect 27-day gap until the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, this race has been won over the years by some very talented sprinters. Karl Burke’s fine filly Quiet Reflection won in 2016 the went on to land the Royal Ascot race, and Harry Angel scored 12 months ago, then anded both the Group 1 July Cup and Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup later in the term.
Favourite Heartache and Invincible Army
At current odds of 7/2, Heartache, trained by Clive Cox , and James Tate’s colt Invincible Army, the mount of champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa (pictured), are the marginal market leaders in a wide open renewal.
Sands of Mali, trained by Richard Fahey (pictured) and James Garfield are both very talented and proven at this level, while the still unexposed Baraquero could be anything. Group 1 winner Unfortunately, Emblazoned, and Actress make up a quality seven-strong field.
On a day of high quality racing in both Britain and Ireland, this three-year-old sprint is an absolute cracker. Richard Fahey has made no secret that he holds his SANDS OF MALI in very high regard and expects him to take high rank in the sprint division this season. He won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York last season (see video below) before ending the campaign beaten just over three lengths by Mendelssohn in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf over a mile at Del Mar in the US, a distance in excess of his best.
Already this season the son of Panis has won in Group 3 company on unsuitably testing ground in France, and with conditions here expected to suit far better he is fancied to take some notable scalps and enhance his reputation.
Clive Cox’s filly Heartache was very fast as a two-year-old winning three of her four races, including the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster in September. She is very much respected but this is tough on her first run of the term. James Garfield ran well when seventh in the 2000 Guineas at HQ earlier in the month having previously landed the Group 3 Greenham Stakes over seven furlongs. George Scott’s charge should again run well but this might be his bare minimum trip these days.
Invincible Army could be a big danger to the selection. He contested a number of the top two-year-old events last term, running well on all occasions including in defeat against Sands of Mail and James Garfield, but has already landed a Group 3 at Ascot earlier this month.
Brian Meehan’s talented Baraquero won the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last August but hasn’t been seen since, while Karl Burke’s Unfortunately, a fine winner of the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville last summer, makes his seasonal return. If these two are fit and well they would not be without a chance.
Aidan O’Brien saddles the filly Actress, a Group 3 winner last campaign, but whose form this season leaves her with something to find, while John Gosden’s recent Yarmouth novice stakes winner Emblazoned has it to do on paper but his brilliant trainer clearly feels he has more to offer.
Betting.net Sands of Mali
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Betting.net Invincible Army
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Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.