Duke of Edinburgh Handicap
THE one and a half-mile Duke of Edinburgh Handicap saw a smart performance from the William Haggas-trained Candleford (Tom Marquand), who came late and wide to mow down the enterprisingly ridden Ajero (Kim Bailey/David Egan) to justify market support which saw him backed into 11/2.
Progressive in a light campaign last season, he was returning from an absence here, and Haggas deserves great credit for producing him at his best.
Ajero is better known as a hurdler, but despite coming very late to flat racing, he had caught the eye in his qualifying runs, and ran a screamer on what was his handicap debut, kicking for home on the turn, and galloping all the way to the line. He ought to stay further, and a return to jumping must be shelved for a while on this evidence.
Heredia benefits from high draw
THE early races on Friday had pointed to a bias towards the far side of the track, and for much of the Sandringham Stakes, it looked like that trend would continue, with Fresh Hope hitting the front widest of all over a furlong out, only for a group on the near side to finish with a flourish to turn the race on its head.
It was the 7/2 favourite Heredia (Richard Hannon/Sean Levey) who came out on top, although she had to survive an enquiry after crossing runner-up Zanbaq (Roger Varian/Jim Crowley) close home. The margin was a length, however, and she was soon given the all-clear.
Four of the first five home in the Sandringham were drawn 21 or higher in a field of 28, with Fresh Hope faring best of the low draws in sixth.
That makes for some interesting questions as to how the big-field sprints will play out on Saturday.