This afternoon I’m riding at Sandown for the twilight meeting. The rail is out 9 metres on the Lakeside circuit and after the recent rain, the track is rated in the soft range with further rain forecast throughout the afternoon.
Race 1 is the Ladbroke It Plate over 1200 metres for maidens. My ride here is MIRACLE DAY who is trained by Robert Hickmott. This three-year-old gelding by Street Boss is raced by Leo To. He’s had three race starts for a second placing which came in his debut run. I rode him in trackwork and jumpouts before his debut run and really liked the feel he gave me, however I was unable to ride him when he debuted at Geelong to finish second. I rode him at his next start where he bucked coming out of the gates which was very surprising as he is such a professional and straightforward horse. His effort to finish only 5.3 lengths from the winner was very good considering the way he left the gates. After having a spell, he had one run last preparation at Cranbourne where he wanted to hang out around the tight turning track to finish fourth and 2.3 lengths from the winner. He resumes here in his first run as a three-year-old and has had multiple jumpouts to prepare him for his return to the races. I’m looking forward to riding him again and the inside barrier draw will give him every opportunity to run up to his potential.
Race 2 is the Ladbrokes Easy Form Handicap over 1300 metres for two-year-old fillies. My ride here is CHARITY SPIRIT who is trained by Robert Hickmott. This daughter of Cable Bay is also raced by Leo To. She is having her first race start today and has been well educated in jumpouts and has the benefit of a recent official trial at Cranbourne to have her ready for her debut. This is almost a full field of gallopers and looks to be of good quality with most of the runners having exposed race form. She will start from a wide barrier draw and wears the nose roll on her head gear. It will be good to see how she presents pre-race and handles the exposure to raceday pressure and conditions for the first time.
Race 3 is the BM64 Ladbrokes Split Multi Handicap over 1600 metres. My ride here is TRANSLATOR who is trained by Nigel Blackiston. This four-year-old gelding by Helmet has had 16 starts for a record of two wins and four placings, and I’ve ridden him in both of his wins with one of those being at this course and distance. He races here fifth-up this preparation and was narrowly beaten last start at Wangaratta where he finished second to Fontein Diamond, who has franked the form by winning the County Mile series final at Moonee Valley last start. If Translator runs up to his best form he will take a lot of beating in this as he is a horse that I have always had a lot of time for.
Race 5 is the BM64 The Big Screen Company Handicap over 1300 metres for three-year-old fillies. My ride here is LITTLE MISS GUTSAA who is trained by Jamie Edwards. This daughter of So You Think has had four starts for two placings and is still a maiden galloper. I had my first ride on her last start at Ballarat where she had the blinkers on for the first time. She jumped well and went forward to control the race but was vulnerable over the concluding stages. I rode her very positively last start and felt that the 1500 metres was just a bit too far at this stage of her career. I like the fact that she is dropping back in distance today and she should be able to make her presence felt in this BM64 race.
Race 6 is the BM64 Tile Importer Handicap over 2100 metres. My ride here is RIPPA CHOICE who is trained by Sarah Zschoke. This six-year-old gelding by Delightful Choice is lightly raced for his age having had 14 starts for a record of one win and four placings. His win came in April of last year and one of his second placings came last start at the same course and distance of this race. He is racing on a seven day turn around and this will be his second start with the blinkers off. His run style is usually to settle in the second half of the field so he will need the race run to suit him with speed-on and the track to be racing evenly allowing horses to make ground. If things go his way this is an achievable race to give him his well-deserved second win.
Race 7 is the BM70 IVE > Print Handicap over 2100 metres for fillies and mares. My ride here is JOHANDOUGH who is trained by Thomas Carberry. This four-year-old mare by Turffontein is lightly raced with a record of 17 starts for two wins and eight placings. She had been racing really consistently without a win for some time until last start, when I was able to win her second race on her when she returned after a nine-week let up. I’ve got no doubt that her last start win will give her so much confidence leading into this race. She is a tricky mare to ride and can get herself very worked up pre-race but she seems to be a lot more settled after some changes to her head gear. She is a mare I know well now having ridden her in her past three runs. If she runs up to her dominant effort of last start she can win again today.