Sandown Summer Festival
It's Ladies Day at Sandown and the start of the two day Summer Festival. Today we have a very nice looking card, with a couple of Listed races and some high-quality good handicaps.
15:25 Ambant Gala Stakes
This is the second Listed race of the afternoon, and although there are just the seven runners, it provides a nice mix of three year olds and a few older more experienced horses.
The Marco Botti trained Fanciful Angel won a very good handicap (0-105) on the all weather at Chelmsford last time out, where he was upped to ten furlongs for the first time. He was staying on very strongly at the finish there, so will surely be hoping this is a strongly run race. When racing on turf he has raced predominantly on good to firm surfaces, so the more the ground dries out, the better.
Frankuss, the three year old colt by the incredible Frankel, was a little outclassed last time out in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, he was just the five lengths behind the excellent winner Permian, and the drop back down to ten furlongs will be of benefit, in my opinion. He gets a very useful weights allowance from the four older horses in the race, and I think he has what it takes to win this race for Mark Johnston. Silvestre De Sousa takes the ride again, and he has been finding plenty of winners recently.
Spark Plug is the current favourite at 3/1, and Ryan Moore rides him for only the second time. He is another one that has been running consistently without getting his nose in front as often as would be liked, but he did run on strongly over ten furlongs at Goodwood two runs ago. He has a very good record on good ground, however, he has never won over today's distance and that is a worry for me.
Ayrad, trained by Roger Charlton, is the top rated horse in the race, currently on a mark of 109. He won this race last year under Andrea Atzeni and he is back on top again today. Apart from a decent second place in a Group 3 in his next race, he has been below par subsequently, finishing down the field quite often, albeit in Group races. He was staying on well last time out in a Listed Race at Ascot, where the ground definitely appeared on the firm side for him. If he can build on that effort he has the class to get involved, howeve, I can't help thinking he would like some more cut in the ground.
The well travelled Kidmenever is an interesting contender, as he has been running well without being able to get his head on front. He ran in the same race at Royal Ascot as Ayrad, where he finished two places better in third. He didn't have the finishing kick to trouble the winner Snoano, and I feel there may be one or two too good for him today as well.
Isomer hasn't run for almost a year, but he was good enough to finish within half a length of Churchill in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, with his final run as a two year old mid division finish in the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. His breeding certainly suggests that he should benefit enormously for the step up in distance, but he would need to be firing on all cylinders and it is very tough to know how fit he will be after a year away from the course.
Frankuss - 1 point @ 7/1