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Alex Hammond previews racing at Sandown and Haydock

Paul Hanagan rides Waady (left) to victory in the toteplacepot Racing's Favoutite Bet Handicap Stakes at Nottingham
Image: Waady can continue on an upward curve at Sandown Park

Sky Sports News HQ presenter Alex Hammond looks forward to a super Saturday at Sandown and Haydock.

The big race this weekend is the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown but with just four rivals taking on unbeaten Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn in the mile-and-a-quarter Group 1, it doesn't look like a race to get heavily involved in.

He takes on his elders for the first time and is 4/11 at Sky Bet, with The Grey Gatsby his nearest rival in the market at 7/2. The race could get messy with such a small field and if anything leads to the favourite's downfall, it could be the way the race is run.

Golden Horn doesn't look short of speed though and is fairly uncomplicated which will also help his cause. The Grey Gatsby was an unlucky loser in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes and Jamie Spencer, who retains the ride, will be hoping to go one better on Kevin Ryan's four year old.

Cheekpieces certainly seemed to bring about an improvement after a couple of below par efforts in the early part of the season and he seems to be back to his best. A tactical race wouldn't be in his favour though. The absence of Andre Fabre's New Bay has left this rather one-sided and it's hard to see Golden Horn losing his unbeaten record. This is probably one to watch and enjoy.

There are some good opportunities to find winners elsewhere at the Esher track. The Group 3 Coral Charge over five furlongs looks a decent heat and John Gosden's Waady is a worthy market leader.

His record at this track is unblemished with three wins from three starts, including an impressive win in the Listed Scurry Stakes last time out. He enjoys the uphill finish of this stiff five furlongs and whilst he's still only a three year old, he gets weight from the older horses and that age group are starting to close the gap on their elders at this time of year.

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The ground looks like it may be too quick for Mecca's Angel, who has been taken out on account of fast ground in the past. If she does line up, she has the strongest recent form in the race and her jockey Paul Mulrennan thinks she would have won the King's Stand Stakes and feels she's a Group 1 winner in the making. She's a dual Group 3 winner and carries a 4lb penalty for her win at Longchamp in May.

Charlie Hills saddles another of the three-year-olds in Salt Island, who drops back from six furlongs for the first time in his short career. He ran a great race in the inaugural Commonwealth Cup to finish fourth behind his stablemate Muhaarar. Fast ground will be in his favour and he ran as if this track would suit.

Kingsgate Native keeps surprising everyone and at 10 he keeps coming back for more! Trainer Robert Cowell does a superb job of keeping these older sprinters in great form and good heart and he is a fine example of those skills. He finished second in this contest last year and looked as enthusiastic as ever when winning the Achilles Stakes at Haydock last time out. Wind Fire has winning form over this course and distance but was well beaten in the King's Stand last time out.

In summary, if Mecca's Angel turns up, she should run a big race, but it might be worth waiting to see what the ground is riding like before backing her. Salt Island is interesting on his first start at the trip, but Waady is a progressive horse with an outstanding course record and he gets my vote.

Sandown Racing

Bet now on Saturday's action at Sandown

The Coral Challenge is a wide open handicap over a mile. Saeed bin Suroor's Basem is one of the market protagonists but may not appreciate the ground as his best form is with some give. Barry Hills runs an improving three year old in Sahaafy, who comes here having run in the Britannia at Royal Ascot.

He was well backed there, but let his supporters down after finishing 10th. He can be forgiven that moderate effort though as he had looked like a progressive performer before Ascot and his recent win at Newmarket couldn't have worked out much better.

Ryan Moore rides top weight Spark Plug, who came down in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot last time out giving Jimmy Fortune a heavy fall. Halation is on the up, and seemed to run well for the fitting of a hood last time out. He could have more to come, but he'll have to find it if he's to keep up with the handicapper. It's Sahaafy for me though and I hope that run in the Britannia was a rare blot on his copybook.

The Bet365 Lancashire Oaks has attracted a decent field at Haydock Park and these fillies and mares will have to work hard to add this mile-and-a-half Group 2 to their CVs.

Sky Bet have co-favourites of three, with Jordan Princess (Luca Cumani), Lady Tiana (Lucy Wadham) and Miss Marjurie (Denis Coakley) all priced at 5/1. The Pinnacle Stakes over this course and distance in May is a good guide for Saturday's race as Miss Marjurie won, beating Lady Tiana in third, with the latter not getting the best of passages.

She should give the winner more to think about here given better luck. The rain that fell at the track recently is certainly in favour of both horses while Jordan Princess was another to meet trouble in running and finish in behind Miss Marjurie, this time at Goodwood at the beginning of May.

That was her first run since September and she's entitled to be sharper for the outing and also wouldn't want the ground too quick. She is potentially the most progressive of the trio.

The William Haggas-trained Queen Of Ice blew her chance in the Pinnacle Stakes by going off too quickly in front and trailed in last. However, she thrives using those front running tactics and if she's allowed her own way, would take some pegging back.

Ballybacka Queen represents Irish trainer Pat Fahey but whether the ground has dried up too much for her remains to be seen and any showers for the Cork Derby winner would play to her strengths. She has been highly tried, but after that decent performance in a premier handicap last time deserves her step back into a Group race with Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle.

Haydock Racing

Bet now on Saturday's racing at Haydock

John Gosden has a decent record in the race too (saddled three of the last four winners) and he is represented by Criteria. She was another to finish behind Miss Marjurie at Goodwood and then in the Pinnacle Stakes. Gosden reaches for the blinkers for the first time for her, replacing the cheekpieces she wore last time out. She has only managed to win her maiden, but on her best form is in with a good chance as she was only beaten three parts of a length by subsequent Irish Oaks winner Bracelet in last year's Ribblesdale.

If the blinkers bring about a revival, she should go close but this is a tough race to call and I think the Irish raider Ballybacka Queen is worth a punt particularly if any further rain comes.

Nineteen have been declared for the bet365 Old Newton Cup over a mile and a half. If the Lancashire Oaks looked open, take a look at this!

There has been plenty of support for Luca Cumani's runner, Penhill, who needs cut in the ground. He was a progressive handicapper last campaign and there could still be more improvement to come. He doesn't look the easiest of rides and can be keen in his races but can be forgiven his moderate run at Newmarket last time out as both track and ground didn't suit. He's short enough for a race of this nature though.

Watersmeet won the Newmarket race that the favourite ran in last time out and has since been beaten off a 6lb higher mark, albeit in a handicap at Royal Ascot. He ran a solid race there, but maybe handicapped up to the max.

Battersea makes his seasonal reappearance for Roger Varian with Graham Lee in the saddle - the four year-old is lightly raced and bar a well-beaten performance on his final start last season has done little wrong. He won't mind the ground if it dries up further, but wouldn't run if the track had further heavy showers.

His form is working out well and this could be the start of a decent year so I hope the trainer lets him take his chance as he's my selection. If he doesn't run due to rain, conditions should be perfect for Penhill.

Saturday selections:

Waady in the Coral Charge @ 3/1 with Sky Bet

Sahaafy in the Coral Challenge @ 5/1 with Sky Bet

Ballybacka Queen in the Lancashire Oaks @ 8/1 with Sky Bet

Battersea in the Old Newton Cup @ 6/1 with Sky Bet

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