Race of The Day Friday July 06
15:301m 2f (2000m)

Davies Insurance Services Gala Stakes (Listed)

Sandown Park

  • Current Favourite  Euginio
  • Current Odds 3/1
Race Analysis Runners 8 Going Good to Firm (Good in places) Distance 1m 2f (2000m)

Race Overview

The Listed Gala Stakes is now in its 15th year and is run over a mile-and-a-quarter at Sandown for horses aged three years and older. Ryan Moore, alongside Kieren Fallon and Richard Hughes, has twice ridden the winner, and will aim to set a new benchmark in this renewal.

Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor stands on his own having trained the winner three times and relies this time on Emirates Flyer. Spark Plug has an excellent record in the race having won last year and finished second in 2016, though this looks a tougher renewal on paper.

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Horse racing Silvestre de Sousa

Favourite Euginio

Euginio, the mount of Silvestre de Sousa, comes here having found only one too strong in the competitive Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot, routinely a strong line-up for this Listed grade. He’s got winning form over the C&D and should be right in the thick of things for the Richard Hannon yard.

Horse racing Sir Michael Stoute

Other Contenders

Last year’s winner Spark Plug is back for more but faces an arduous task seemingly to match that form or even his 2016 second in the race after some muddling recent efforts. Mustashry comes out best on ratings for Sir Michael Stoute (pictured) and needs close scrutiny, despite having an absence to overcome, whilst both Morando and Connect will also have their supporters.

Race Analysis

Spark Plug has an excellent record in this contest having struck 12 months ago in the hands of Ryan Moore with a well time run from a hold-up positon. He had finished a close second in a five-runner edition in 2016. Notwithstanding those positives, he’s got a strong profile but may be vulnerable against some of these, particularly judged on recent Royal Ascot form.

One of the more intriguing and unquantifiable contenders in the line-up is Mustashry for Sir Michael Stoute and Jim Crowley. He made progress last summer and landed the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York in August over 1m1f. It has to be assumed that he wasn’t able to give his best on his final start in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket the following month, where he appeared set to mount a smooth challenge only to quickly grind to a halt.

The softer conditions underfoot at Headquarters would only partly explain that sub-par effort and it has to rank as a concern that this is his first start since, but his master trainer can certainly have him ripe. That said, his record fresh isn’t especially strong, and he might be worth watching this time.

The Clive Cox-trained Connect is in fine fettle after a career-best effort when scoring at Epsom last month. The lightly-raced colt by Roderic O’Connor isn’t out of this on form and has Andrea Atzeni (in excellent form himself) on board, but the ground is a barrier to any confidence in his chance. All three wins have come with soft in the description and he was well below his best at Newbury in May on this type of going.

EUGINIO was a winner over C&D in this month last year in a handicap on good-to-firm ground and has been knocking on the door at this level since returning for the new term. He was a decent third in the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket in his seasonal bow before finishing second to Mirage Dancer at Goodwood.

Most recently, he ran a cracking race at Royal Ascot to be second in the Wolferton Handicap behind Monarch’s Glen (reversed form with Goodwood winner), form that gives him a jump on the likes of Big Country, Morando and Spark Plug. The first-time blinkers appeared to assist there and, if having the same effect now, Silvestre De Sousa’s mount is the one they’ve got to beat.

Big Country struggled in that Ascot contest and is having just his second cut at Listed company now. He may find this more to his liking and it is certainly noteworthy that connections have sought the help of Ryan Moore. He’s one to monitor in the betting.

Morando may be of more interest however on his return to this track. He ran an excellent race when third over C&D behind Crystal Ocean on his reappearance and things essentially didn’t go his way at Ascot. There is a nagging doubt about firm ground for Andrew Balding’s runner, but the stable are in very good form and he looks sure to go off a fair price with that fear accounted for.

Saeed bin Suroor’s hopes of a fourth win in the race are going to be carried by Emirates Flyer who has plenty to find on what we’ve seen to date, while the line-up is completed by First String, disappointing last time in France and surely going to be up against it conceding a penalty for his Listed Goodwood win.

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Written by Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is an Irish-based racing writer with an increasing portfolio of work on British and Irish racing. His daily routine is race-by-race form analysis, both on the Flat and over jumps. While the racing world must keep on turning, he is quite sure that no horse will ever pull at his heartstrings quite as much as the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.