Adayar’s Return The Focus On Intriguing Sandown Card

Despite the heavy ground that unfortunately has led to some key withdrawals, Sandown’s “Spring Celebration” fixture on Friday sees some big names both past and present, proven and as-yet untested brought for their Esher examination.

Godolphin’s Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) makes his 5-year-old bow in a customarily-beleaguered G3 Gordon Richards S. and is an altogether mightier presence these days than when making his first big breakthrough as an unlucky second in this venue’s 2021 G3 Classic Trial. Since then, Charlie Appleby’s goliath has conquered a Derby, a King George and finished runner-up in the Champion S. off a rushed preparation so it is no surprise that he is one of this year’s kingpins.

“We have been delighted with Adayar’s preparation,” Appleby said. “The ground is going to be testing and this is very much a prep race ahead of the Prince of Wales’s S., but he is the class horse in the field.”


Step Forward Anmaat

Even if Adayar has had an ideal Spring so far, this is unsuitably heavy ground for him and Owen Burrows has a potential thorn in his side in the form of Shadwell’s G2 Prix Dollar winner Anmaat (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}). Unbeaten last term, the gelding is one of the operation’s more realistic big-league actors in 2023 and Angus Gold is looking forward to seeing how he measures against the best.

“We’ll take it one race at a time, but obviously the plan in a perfect world is to make him a Group 1 winner,” he said. “He’s an incredibly tough horse with a great attitude. I don’t think he’s going to want firm ground, so we’ll be guided by the conditions as to whether to he’s a mid-summer horse or not.”

The card’s G2 Sandown Mile is the race most affected by scratches, but last year’s G1 Prix Jean Prat and G1 Prix Jacques le Marois runner-up Light Infantry (Fr) (Fast Company {Ire}) could have an ideal chance to put himself in the picture for the upcoming G1 Lockinge S. and G1 Queen Anne S.


The Star Chamber

Godolphin put forward two TDN Rising Stars on the card, with the Listed Silver Tankard S. winner Local Dynasty (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) sticking at a mile for the Esher Cup H. and G3 Zetland S. scorer Flying Honours (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) in the Classic Trial that boasted a first three of Alenquer (Fr) (Adlerflug {Ger}), Adayar and Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) two years ago and was won by Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) 12 months ago. Juddmonte’s G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud runner-up Arrest (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), Valmont’s G1 Criterium International third Salt Bay (Ger) (Farhh {GB}) and The King & Queen Consort’s exciting Salisbury novice scorer Circle Of Fire (GB) (Almanzor {Fr}) make for a fascinating cast.

Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon said, “He handled the heavy ground in France last year and I think it was pretty soft when he won at Ffos Las the time before. The trials are all so tight and all so close to the big day, so I think if he was to go to a Derby, we’d probably do what we did last year with Westover and go straight there from Sandown.”

Westover’s trainer Ralph Beckett said of Salt Bay, “I don’t think the trip will be an issue, as he will probably get a mile and a half. He is a generous worker and a very straightforward customer. I think he is a horse that will probably improve physically as he gets older as he is that type, but let’s hope he has improved enough over the winter to get competitive on Friday. Westover was much more experienced at this stage last year as he had already had three starts, whereas this fellow wouldn’t know quite as much, so the comparisons are unfair at this stage.”

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