Sandown preview: Gothic Empire can strike back

Gothic Empire has been given a chance by the assessor, and can get back on the winning trail in the 7f handicap on this evening’s card at Sandown (19.55), now partnered for the first time by in-form jockey Frankie Dettori.

The Marco Botti trained gelding shaped with bags of promise when fourth on his debut as a juvenile, and duly improved for the experience when landing a 7f maiden at Wolverhampton in facile fashion.

Gothic Empire cruised clear to score by 4 1/2 lengths, it was a performance which suggested he would do even better as a three-year-old when tackling handicaps.

The son of Dark Angel has failed to live up to expectations in two runs this season, but was far from disgraced last time out at Newamarket when keeping on to finish a never nearer 5 3/4 lengths by Mister Brightside.

It was a step back in the right direction, and Gothic Empire has since been dropped a further 3lb.

Having started life off in handicaps on a rating of 85, Gothic Empire is now able to race off what looks a far more workable mark of 80.

He should be able to be really competitive off it, and the booking of Dettori looks significant as he has a 20 per cent strike rate in the past 12 months when teaming up with the yard.

In the 1m 2f handicap (19.25), Muqtaser can provide red-hot trainer Roger Varian with another winner.

John Gosden

The colt has posted two really solid efforts this season in decent contests, and in the first of those at Newmarket finished a 1/2 length third the now 90-rated Dissolution when attempting to give the winner 5lb.

Muqtaser backed that up with an excellent two length third at the same venue behind Marma’s Boy, holding every chance until being unable to quicken inside the final furlong.

Judged on those runs Muqtaser should be more than capable of winning races off his current mark of 88, and this stiff track should play to the strengths of the well-bred son of Distorted Humour.

17.40: Passover
18.15: Alshalaal
18.50: Shahbar
19.25: Muqtaser (NB)
19.55: Gothic Empire (NAP)
20.25: Hot Mustard