Sandown preview: National Stakes (18.35)

The Hannons have a terrific record in the National Stakes and King Of Rooks can further enhance it with victory in the Listed 5f contest on a cracking six-race card at Sandown this evening (18.35).

Tiggy Wiggy won the race 12 months ago for trainer Richard Hannon junior, and his father of the same name saddled the winner on four occasions.

King Of Rooks carries the same colours as Tiggy Wiggy, and looks a very exciting and progressive juvenile.

The colt shaped with bags of promise on debut at Ascot when third to Steady Pace, travelling like much the best horse for most of the contest until being outpaced by the winner inside the final furlong.

Although beaten three lengths, King Of Rooks was tenderly handled by jockey Richard Hughes and showed the benefit of that experience when bolting up by six lengths over 6f at Newbury earlier in the month.

The son of Acclamation showed bags of speed in the latter to race at the head of affairs, before easing clear inside the last furlong to win with any amount in hand.

It was a performance which marked King Of Rooks out as a leading contender for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the drop back to 5f in this should hold no fears given the stiff nature of the track.

King Of Rooks has also bagged a good draw in stall three, and I think he is capable of turning the tables with Steady Pace to provide the Hannons with a sixth success in the contest.

Steady Pace is trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and showed a smart turn of foot when finishing in front of the selection at Ascot.

The son of Dark Angel showed plenty of early dash to chase the leaders, and after being produced on the stands side rail at the furlong marker shot clear to beat Beaverbrook by 2 3/4 lengths.

There was lots to like about the performance, but Steady Pace looked to know his job better than King Of Rooks and the fact he was sent off an unfancied 10/1 shot suggests the victory was a bit of a surprise.

Steady Pace now has to prove that wasn’t a fluke, but is a clearly an exciting prospect who commands the utmost respect.

Others that should not be underestimated are Areen, who scored in good style on debut at York when beating a trio of rivals with previous experience, and Case Key who now steps up in class having looked an above average sort when scoring on debut Leicester 10 days ago.