Sandown Chester, and York Tips | Stand and Guard

Royal Ascot Day 5, July Festival

Today is the final Saturday to try and build up the bank ahead of Royal Ascot as Sandown, Chester, and York take centre stage.

Last week, both bets failed to hit the frame, but I’m not losing hope on Jumby as his passage through the John Of Gaunt Stakes wasn’t an easy one, and by the time he had a chance to extend, his chance at winning the race had disappeared.

He’s entered in a few handicaps at Royal Ascot, so if connections angle him to the royal meeting, he looks like one to keep onside.

As for this weekend, a few horses have caught my attention, so let’s dive in.

 

2:40 Sandown – Flora Of Bermuda @ 11/2 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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Having backed Flora Of Bermuda to win the Group 2 Temple Stakes last-time-out, her antics at the stalls saw that betting slip go up in smoke almost immediately.

However, I’m not losing any hope in her ability as she was a classy juvenile.

To begin with, she finished sixth in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, though the first five came from the stands’ side and she was positioned on the far side.

After that, she posted a cracking time at Glorious Goodwood when bolting up by four lengths in a fillies’ conditions stakes and two starts later, she finished second to Big Evs in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes.

Admittedly, most of her form is on soft ground, but the sprinkling of rain that Sandown has received today should take the sting out of the ground. Her dam, Dubai Power, also won on good to firm ground.

With race fitness on her side, she gets three pounds from the favourite Adaay In Devon, so she should run well here.

 

3:20 Chester – Witness Stand @ 15/2 with William Hill (4 places) – 1pt EW

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Sticking with horses that I’ve previously backed, Witness Stand can build on his recent Chester effort over the same course and distance in the valuable Roodee Handicap.

The three-year-old by Expert Eye was second to the extremely well-backed Never So Brave from a bad stall last-time-out and he has an equally bad draw in 12 to negotiate today.

However, the current forecasted rain for this afternoon will help his chance and his form in the book looks rock solid.

Two starts ago, he finished a fair fifth Notable Speech (2000 Guineas winner), a race that has worked out well as the third (Persica) won the Lester Piggott Handicap at Epsom two weeks ago.

Before that, he was second to Orne (a subsequent Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes runner-up) at Newmarket and as a two-year-old, he finished sixth in a hot renewal of the Group 2 Vintage Stakes.

With an unchanged mark of 97, he can go well here.

 

3:35 York – Imperial Guard @ 12/1 with William Hill (5 places) – 1pt EW

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In one of the more valuable handicaps today, Imperial Guard looks like an interesting contender who has scope to improve on his current rating of 84.

The three-year-old Night Of Thunder colt is Andrew Balding’s only runner at York today, so connections are hoping the 442-mile round trip provides some success.

Purchased for 270,000gns as a yearling, he made a good impression on his only two starts as a juvenile as he was third to Orne debut before finishing second to Zoum Zoum (a subsequent Listed Prix Herod winner) one start later.

On his first start of this season, he quickened up nicely at Kempton to beat Sky Wizard (a horse with solid form alongside Equity Law and Fast Responder) over six furlongs before slightly disappointing next-time-out.

Most recently, he had to come through horses at Ascot on his turf debut, but he travelled strongly and didn’t have the easiest route through the field.

He’s likely to build on that effort and the good to soft going description should cause no issues as his full brother (Electric Storm) won this year’s Listed Cecil Frail on soft ground and his dam (Ancestral) put in her best effort on heavy ground.

With solid form in the book and a nice pedigree (from the family of the Group 1 winner Quiff), 12/1 looks like a fair price for Imperial Guard.

 

4:45 York – Orbaan @ 16/1 with William Hill (5 places) – 1pt EW

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Yes, I’m trusting a bit of a cliff horse in the penultimate race of the day from York as Orbaan has dropped to an attractive handicap mark.

Admittedly, I backed him in his last race at Epsom hoping he’d return to his best form, but the quality of a Class 2 handicap and running on the outside of the field didn’t suit him too well.

As such, the handicapper has dropped him to a mark of 83, a remarkable rating considering he had a rating of 100 at the start of last season.

Having won on good to soft at York before (in July 2020), the ground shouldn’t cause any issues and this drop into Class 4 company (with the benefit of a few runs under his belt) can see him return to the winners’ enclosure.

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