Lawns and clerks of the course might not like long, hot, dry spells – but as we’re neither we’ll just keep enjoying the racing in glorious sunshine until it stops.
Today Sandown Park staged a seven race card packed with competitive racing, featuring a Listed race for two year old fillies, a St Leger contender and an impressive 131-1 treble for reigning champion jockey Oisin Murphy.
We asked Graham Clark to pick out the five main talking points …
INSPIRAL SHOWS CLASSIC QUALITY WITH STYLISH SUCCESS
Yes, yes, we know it’s a bit early to be looking ahead to next year’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas – but hear us out.
Few two year olds are producing the kind of performances demonstrated by Inspiral here today and the Frankel filly left trainer John Gosden gushing with praise afterwards.
In fact her victory in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Star Stakes was so convincing that bookmakers have thrust her straight to the top of the market for the second Classic of the season at Newmarket next May.
Anchored near the rear of the field for much of the seven furlong contest, the well-supported Evens favourite moved stylishly into contention before striking the front inside the final quarter of a mile under jockey Frankie Dettori.
Gosden said afterwards: “Frankie thought he got a long way back so he thought he better make a move and she got there very quickly.
“She has hit the front two out and that is a long way to go here. She has run great. She was a little green when she hit the front but she is a lovely filly and has run a gorgeous race.
“She broke her maiden well but she wasn’t wound up for it. She has got a lot of class. I think it was a good fillies race as they went a fast pace but she came through very well, so I’m delighted with her.
“She has worked very nicely on the bridle but has never been asked to come off the bridle. That is the first time she has been off the bridle in her life today.”
MURPHY LORDS IT OVER RIVALS WITH 131-1 TREBLE
If you think it’s a bit early to be picking horses out for next season’s major races then you’ll hopefully forgive us for identifying what could prove to be a big moment in this season’s Champion Jockey title race.
We might only be at the half-way mark of the season but reigning champ Oisin Murphy’s 131-1 treble puts clear daylight – 10 wins to be precise – between himself and nearest rival Tom Marquand.
Of the three winners he rode on another scorching afternoon in Esher, it was Classic Lord whose own season looks like progressing the most.
Having filled the runner-up spot on his previous two starts, the Andrew Balding-trained Lord Of England colt looked destined to finish second again in the Young Stayers Handicap after being passed by Annandale during the closing stages of the 1m 6f contest.
However, the 11-10 favourite was not to be denied and with one last surge under Murphy the German-bred colt forged back ahead in the closing strides before prevailing by half a length, adding to his success at Haydock Park earlier in the campaign.
The win leaves connections dreaming of an appearance in the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster later in the year and Balding said: “He is improving all the time and he showed a very good attitude today.
“He seems very versatile ground-wise as he won on heavy ground at Haydock earlier in the season. If the ground was a bit softer I’d say it would suit him better.
“It would be an enormous step up for him to be in with a realistic chance in the St Leger but he is improving all the time. We put him in the St Leger and it is still a possibility.”
HIGH PRAISE FOR COLT WHO COULD BE MEADE’S NEXT STAR
For a horse triumphing in a maiden at the third attempt, Oisin Murphy lavished some pretty notable praise on his first winner of the day – Zechariah.
The 8-1 chance took a big step forward from his previous two efforts with a resounding three and a half-length victory in the Martin Densham Memorial EBF Maiden Stakes.
Afterwards Murphy was quick to mention the Nathaniel colt in the same breath as trainer Martyn Meade’s 2019 Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise and current stable star Lone Eagle.
He said: “He is a very nice horse and when he gets stronger he is going to be a lovely horse. He will stay further and will improve going up to a mile.
“Martyn Meade’s system works as every year he gets a good horse. There has been Advertise, Lone Eagle and this could be the next one, so let’s see.”
We certainly will, Oisin.
IMPRESSIVE ARENAS PREFERS FRONT-RUNNING TEMPO
No one can accuse Oisin Murphy of being a one trick pony and his third winner of the day was a masterclass in front-running tactics.
Arenas Del Tiempo (6-1) completed the jockey’s treble to follow up her last time out victory at Brighton by three lengths in the concluding Twickenham Fillies’ Handicap.
Winning trainer, Epsom-based Simon Dow, admitted he hadn’t always been convinced there would be enough in the tank for the pair to get home after taking their rivals to task in the first half of the 1m 1f contest.
But he was delighted with the end result and praised Hollie Doyle for deploying the same tactics on her last appearance to give them the confidence to do the same here.
He explained: “I thought she would probably finish up leading but Hollie changed the game for us at Brighton when she gave her a wonderful ride from the front.
“Oisin has allowed her to commit even more and she looked to me as though she was going to finish on fumes, but she had enough just to get up the hill.
“If she could do it the right way around she would be quite handy. It is Robert Moss’s (owner) first home bred he has won with and he made quite a show of it at Brighton last time - but it is really exciting.”
PATIENCE IS KEY AS STREET PARADE GETS OFF THE MARK
That old adage of “if at first you don’t succeed” can be applied just as readily to racehorses as it can to the rest of us.
Even trainer Michael Attwater admitted he hadn’t arrived at Sandown Park with much confidence in Street Parade, who was making his 12th start without a victory to his name.
However, the opening race of the day – the five furlong Tellisford Handicap – went the way of the 12-1 chance by a neck and his Epsom-based handler couldn’t be happier.
Attwater said: “It’s taken a long time to get his confidence back and obviously he has come down the handicap, but we’ve not tried to do anything clever except let the horse be happy and enjoy himself at home.
“I didn’t come here today with a great deal of confidence of it being any better but he was happy and well in himself which he has been for a while.
“He’s gradually been running better and better. He’s had a few near misses and we felt he was just saving himself a little bit, but for whatever reason today he just decided to stick his head down and have a proper battle which was a great day to do it.”
A return to Brighton could now be on the cards for Street Parade, with Attwater hinting at the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap, better known as the Brighton Bullet, on August 6th as his next destination.