5.00 Sandown – MARECHAL NEY (nap)
The selection, trained by John Gosden, is a well-bred son of Frankel who made his debut outing over this course and distance in a novice event just nine days ago (10/1 chance), very slowly away and racing at the rear of the field, still in last when shaken up over two furlongs out, running green but keeping on nicely inside the final furlong to finish eighth of 14 behind Elwazir (beaten 8¾ lengths). This colt wasn’t seen to best advantage that evening, blowing the start and also running green off the bridle initially, but the late ground he made from a hopeless position for mainly hands-and-heels riding (given one slap behind the saddle) served notice of better things to come. The fact he has held pattern-class entries indicates the regard in which he is held by top connections, and his pedigree is another pointer to him being above average one day (a couple of his siblings, namely Dawn Horizons and Our Obsession, were successful second time out after posting similarly promising debut efforts). All in all, it would something of a disappointment if this son of Frankel couldn’t improve in one big hit and come good at the second time of asking.
5.35 Sandown – DARK PEARL (nb)
The selection, trained by Ed Walker, is a son of Born To Sea who shaped well on debut in a 10f maiden at Newbury last May and came good at the third time of asking in a 12f contest at Chepstow a month later, making all and readily dispatching a trio of rivals. He performed with credit on both subsequent outings in handicap company, travelling strongly when third to Royal Associate at Ascot (12f) last July prior to a seventh place finish in the Melrose Handicap (14f) at York the following month, again travelling well but not helped by challenging away from where the main action unfolded (beaten 6¼ lengths). His return to action came in a 13.5f handicap at Chester three weeks ago (9/2 chance), dropped in from a wide draw and travelling fluently at the rear of the field, short of room briefly on the approach to the straight and ridden soon after, staying on well inside the final furlong to take fifth behind Star Of The East (beaten 5 lengths). He is entitled to strip fitter for that run, once again hinting that he has a much bigger performance in him at some stage, very much unexposed at staying trips; a stiffer test on a more conventional track ought to suit better, and it’d be rather disappointing if this gelding couldn’t regain the winning thread now.