Sandown Preview (13:30): Spring Offensive up for the Cup
Spring Offensive ran a blinder when runner-up on seasonal reappearance and can go one better to land the Esher Cup at Sandown today (13:30).
The Richard Fahey-trained gelding had just three starts last season, and after shaping with bags of promise when third on debut opened his account in good style when staying on strongly from off the pace to beat Inedible Ink by 1 1/2 lengths in a 7f maiden at Redcar.
Spring Offensive won going away in a race that has worked out well, and went on to improve again when last seen in action and runner-up on handicap debut in a competitive 15-runner nursery at York off a mark of 77.
A son of Iffraaj, Spring Offensive finished with a flourish to go down by just a short-head to Invincible Gold, and the form of the race has a strong look to it.
The winner went on to perform with credit when eight of 15 in a valuable sales race at Newmarket, and the fourth home Supreme Occasion subsequently finished fourth in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster and is now rated 99.
That made Spring Offensive’s opening handicap mark of 80 look on the lenient side, and he shaped as if ahead of it when chasing home Moonlightnavigator in the Royal Mile at Musselburgh earlier in the month.
Spring Offensive kept on strongly from well off the pace to be beaten just 3/4 of a length on soft ground which wasn’t ideal, and although now 4lb higher in the weights looks the type who has plenty more to offer and needs keeping on the right side.
Today’s quicker ground will certainly be in Spring Offensive’s favour, and with that run under his belt he looks the one they all have to beat.
Trained by Richard Hannon, Tom Hark finished two lengths behind Spring Offensive when fourth in the Royal Mile and commands plenty of respect given connections, but the biggest danger may well be Mutarakez.
This colt has only had two starts, and after shaping with plenty of promise when fourth at Nottingham showed a good attitude to land an 18-runner 7f maiden at Doncaster by a head.
The third home Thahab, who was beaten three lengths, is now rated 86 and that suggests that the Brian Meehan trained Mutarakez could well have got in lightly of an opening mark of 85.