The ground was given as good to soft at Sandown on Thursday morning ahead of the first day of their two-day Eclipse meeting.

In the listed Coral Marathon Morando (2.55) is taken to reverse Royal Ascot form dropped back to 2m having looked a non-stayer over an additional five furlongs in the Queen Alexandra Stakes last month. Andrew Balding’s 8-y-o has not won since 2019 but this looks a good opportunity in a race in which all six protagonists hold realistic claims.   

The listed Gala Stakes sees Adam Kirby reunited with John Leeper (4.05) who he was jocked off from in the Derby before getting the spare winning ride aboard Adayar. Frankie Dettori gave the selection a bizarre ride at Epsom, trying to get his mount to settle in last before circling the field as they came down Tattenham Corner.

He looked a non-stayer at Epsom, and he returns to 10f today – the same trip that he had won over at Newmarket previously. The runner up at HQ – Tasman Bay – finished second in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and, if Kirby can get John Leeper to drop his head, I believe the Ed Dunlop horse – 13/8 with 10Bet – can return to winning ways. There is no guaranteed pace in the race which is a concern and I wonder if Kirby might consider making his own running.

In the 10f handicap at Haydock this evening DR T J Eckleburg (5.35) will appreciate this slight drop back in trip having failed to get home over Carlisle’s stiff 11f last time. The selection travelled like much the best horse last time having landed his penultimate start at Ayr over today’s trip. David O’Meara’s gelding is up another 2lbs in the weights, but he is only 5lbs higher than when winning his penultimate start and can reward each way support at 4s with William Hill 4 places..

In the 3m 2f handicap chase at Newton Abbott I am keen to take on market leader Ballyegan Hero despite the 10-y-old being 4lbs well-in despite carrying a 7lbs penalty for a fluent success over C&D last week. I thought that was a poor four-runner event, however, and my two against the field are Danboru (4.50) and Friends Don’t Ask with marginal preference for the former.

The each way recommendation – 18s with MansionBet – has been lightly raced in recent years but ran well at Ffos Las when last seen back in April. Trainer Tim Vaughan had a welcome winner at Worcester earlier in the week and his 10-y-old won his sole previous start at today’s course – a maiden hurdle two years ago.

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