ALTHOUGH all the attention this weekend is on AP McCoy, there is some cracking flat action at Sandown Park this afternoon.
The place to start is the bet365 Mile (2.30pm) and the bookies are struggling to split the leading contenders, with the sponsors offering 4/1 co-favourites of four.
I actually think it is a little easier to unravel than that. Bow Creek, Custom Cut and Here Comes When all have to carry 4lb penalties, while the last two prefer some juice in the ground.
That comment also applies to Breton Rock, who had a fantastic season for David Simcock last year and is definitely a horse to follow this campaign.
The one who stands out today is SHIFTING POWER for Richard Hannon and hopefully his brother-in-law Richard Hughes, who has been suffering with an illness.
This son of Compton Place won the Free Handicap on his first start last term and went on to finish a solid fourth in the 2000 Guineas before an excellent second behind Kingman in the Irish version.
He ran poorly on his final outing at Goodwood, but he’d had some hard races and first time up could be the perfect time to catch him.
The Hannon’s have had a few disappointments in the past few weeks, but they have farmed this race in recent years, winning six of the past 10 runnings. This looks a good opportunity for Shifting Power.
If the Hannon’s have dominated the Mile, the boss when it comes to the Gordon Richards Stakes (2.00pm) is undoubtedly Sir Michael Stoute. The master trainer has won it seven times and he can make it eight with the progressive CANNOCK CHASE.
The four-year-old was a good winner of the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot and has been given a break since then. Arab Spring won well for Stoute at Newbury on Saturday and Cannock Chase has a similar profile to his stablemate.
I’d be concerned about the drop back in trip for Postponed, while last year’s winner Tullius and Western Hymn would both prefer softer ground.
John Gosden’s JACK HOBBS is fancied to take the last (4.45pm). He landed his maiden at Wolverhampton in December and has reportedly been working well with Wednesday’s Investec Derby Trial winner Christophermarlowe.
Finally, for those of you who have effectively said goodbye to the jumps season, there are a couple of decent contests at Haydock tomorrow.
The big race is the mile handicap (2.20pm) and I’m going to take Hugo Palmer to continue his fine start to the season with EXTREMITY in this 16-runner affair.
He was sent off just 9/1 for the Cambridgeshire last September but he lost a shoe and ran no sort of race. His trainer has won with three of his five runners on turf so far this campaign and he’s always loved this one.
CANNOCK CHASE 2.00pm Sandown (today)
SHIFTING POWER 2.30pm Sandown (today)
JACK HOBBS 4.45pm Sandown (today)
EXTREMITY e/w 2.20pm Haydock (tomorrow)