Ante-Post Value – The Coral Charge
Having already covered the Coral Eclipse earlier this week, it’s now time to look at the big race for the sprinters. This will be fast and furious over Sandown’s 5f and, as I’ve mentioned before when looking at races on the sprint track around here, luck in-running will be of the utmost importance.
Stepper Point currently shades favouritism with most of the books and, given his go-forward style of running, will be less reliant on getting breaks compared to most. That’s an obvious help and the William Muir trained 5-year-old is clearly in the form of his life having finished second at 50/1 in the Group 1 King’s Stand behind Sole Power at Royal Ascot – a mighty effort in anyone’s book.
A replication of that run would leave him hard to beat, no doubt, but I cannot help having worries over the fact that every time he has stepped above Listed company, he has been defeated. Those worries could be misplaced and he’s not exactly old for a sprinter, despite being quite exposed from a number of runs point of view (33 in total; 22 in stakes races), but 5/1 is fairly tight looking.
From the plum draw in stall 1, Steps will be fancied by many now returning to a track with a stiff, uphill finish. Roger Varian’s 6-year-old is similarly in the form of his life at the moment and ran a cracker when sixth behind Stepper Point in the King’s Stand, that coming just ten days after he was mightily unlucky not to win the Epsom Dash off a monster mark of 109 (beaten three-parts of a length despite plenty going wrong in-running). If he breaks out on terms this time and has a handier racing position than has been the case the last twice, he’ll go close to winning but luck will have to be on his side and he’s the sort who can go without sometimes. The percentage call is to oppose at around 5/1 as well.
Dinkum Diamond and Kingsgate Native are far from discounted on their best form, but King’s Stand fifth Ahtoug at 11/2 will get the nod. I’ve always had a liking for the 6-year-old and since he went out to Meydan in the winter, he has improved by about a stone into a really solid Group horse. His form with Amber Sky and Shea Shea reads well in the context of this and although he has a length to make up on Stepper Point, I get the impression that the uphill finish here could be more in his favour and help to swing things around. It’s also possible that an improvement could be forthcoming on account that being his first outing for ten weeks and, indeed, his first in Britain for a while. The price is hardly one that’ll blow our minds but I’m happy enough to play it and hopefully the horse can show why! He’s talented on his day and this level will be to his liking; he’s above it on his best form.
Selection for the Coral Charge (2:05 Sandown; Saturday, 5th July):
Ahtoug – 11/2, available generally.
Post by James Boyle
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