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Talented Hillstar the one to beat in Brigadier Gerard

By James Boyle –

At the moment, all I seem to be mentioning is ground, ground and ground. The rain is ruining things and the 2014 renewal of Sandown’s Group 3 Brigadier Gerard is all set to be run on rotten, heavy ground. Only 5 horses will be lining up, if even that after some morning track-walks by connections, and every single one of them come with risks for some reason or another. That’s making it a surprisingly tricky race to decipher.

The top weight (carries a 3lb penalty), Top Notch Tonto, steps up to this 1m 2f trip for just the second time and his staying prowess must have massive questions marks attached to it. Brian Ellison, his shrewd and capable trainer, seems to think that he’ll stay but I just can’t see it happening (especially on heavy) versus a few who have proven stamina. Added to that, he has to give the lot of them weight and if he wins, fair play.

John Gosden’s Remote could not have been much more progressive in his four outings last term and would hold an obvious chance of winning if all things were equal. They’re not, however, and his participation must be in doubt on account of the ground being much worse than ideal. He’s a fast ground performer with plenty of potential targets to wait for and it’s odds-on that he’ll be pulled out in the morning (if not, all the better!).

Sharestan could be one of the more solid shouts as he will definitely act on the ground and has got no problem with running to his best when fresh, as he will be tomorrow. However, on this ground and on a track where they finish up a hill, I’m not convinced by his stamina in such company and can’t get excited by quotes of 11/4. Fair enough, the race may just fall in his lap and he’ll win by default, but I’d rather look elsewhere for one who’ll definitely get home.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Hillstar is an unoriginal shout given that he’s currently heading the market at 9/4, but there are no stamina issues with him and I think the only thing that gets him beaten is the ground. He may well not handle it, as appeared to be the case at Chester last time out when he was outstayed by Brown Panther over further, but he will win if he does. The son of Danehill Dancer is simply superior in ability to this lot and should be coming close to his peak after an unsuccessful spin over in Dubai. This is his to lose, IMO.



Hillstar Silks Hillstar – 9/4, available generally.

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