Sandown’s evening card features the listed Heron Stakes (19:15) over a mile with a field of six three-year-old colts declared.
The Gosden stable is bidding to win this for the fourth consecutive time and they have excellent prospects of doing so with Reach For The Moon (125) who progressed into a smart colt at two. He’s had an injury since then, scuppering plans to represent his owner the Queen in the Derby, but reappears here in preparation for Royal Ascot instead where he was runner-up in the Chesham Stakes last year.
Reach For The Moon won his next two starts after that, notably the Solario Stakes over this course, and ran his best race in defeat when beaten a head by Bayside Boy in a muddling Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. The winner went on to be placed behind some of the top two-year-olds later in the autumn, and that’s much the best form on offer here. John & Thady Gosden also have the ‘Hot Trainer’ flag.
The pick of Reach For The Moon’s rivals is ‘Horse In Focus’ Akhu Najla (117p) for Roger Varian. He has plenty to live up to in terms of price-tag and pedigree, being a 2.7m guinea yearling and a Kingman half-brother to 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold. He’s made a very promising start, finishing a close second on his debut at Leicester last year and was then backed as if defeat was out of the question before impressively winning a maiden at Yarmouth last month by six and a half lengths from Knight of Honour, a stablemate of Reach For The Moon. Like that colt, Akhu Najla holds a St James’s Palace Stakes entry, another race won by his half-brother.
My Prospero (112p) also earned the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag last time for ‘Hot Trainer’ William Haggas and has a similar profile, just having to be pushed out to beat a big field of maidens at Newbury last month after showing promise on his only two-year-old start when third to the future Craven runner-up Claymore in a novice at Newmarket.
James Horton’s Encourageable (107p) looks the other potential improver in the field though has more to find to get involved. He ran into My Prospero’s smart stablemate Majloom on his debut at Doncaster in March and then showed a likeable attitude when beating another from the Haggas stable, Vintage Choice, in a novice at Wolverhampton last month, a performance which earned Encourageable the ‘Sectional Timing’ flag.
Harrow and Oneforthegutter (both 114) have proven themselves useful colts for Andrew Balding and Ian Williams respectively. Harrow is fully exposed now but completed a hat-trick of wins at two in the valuable Weatherbys Scientific £200,000 2-y-o Stakes at the St Leger meeting and can probably be forgiven his latest run when last of six in the listed Dee Stakes at Chester when upped in trip on a track that seemed not to suit. Oneforthegutter had only four starts last year, making a successful debut at Haydock, and ran his best race when failing by just a head to get the better of the filly Who Knows in the Group 3 Prix Francois Boutin at Deauville.
Timeform analyst’s verdict
Reach For The Moon hails from a yard with an outstanding record in this event and last year’s most progressive juvenile is confidently expected to return in style before tackling better company. Yarmouth scorer Akhu Najla has plenty more to offer too and appeals as the one to chase home the Queen’s Sea The Stars colt ahead of the equally unexposed My Prospero.
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