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Sandown best bets: Softer conditions should suit Metal Merchant down to the ground

It’s Coral-Eclipse day at Sandown, but before the big race, the one-mile Coral Challenge handicap has given Tipstrr pundit Stev Jones plenty to consider before picking out his Daily Bargain.

14:25 Sandown: Coral Challenge Handicap  (1 mile)

The early market doesn’t appear to have taken sufficient notice of the weather forecast, as Perotto, who won this race on good-firm last year, would much prefer top of the ground, with all six of his career wins coming on either good-firm or good.

Conversely, Metal Merchant looks a much more attractive proposition given that his latest success came over a mile at Newbury with cut in the ground.

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That win came in the valuable Class 2 Spring Cup in April, when he beat 20 rivals on good-soft under today’s rider, David Probert.

This four-year-old is capable of handling even deeper ground than that, as he demonstrated when finishing runner-up over that same course and distance on heavy ground late last season.

Indeed, he was withdrawn from an intended assignment at Windsor last season when good-firm ground was deemed unsuitable for him. The same thing happened at York in May this year, when he was taken out of the valuable Hambleton Handicap because the ground, which was advertised as good, was seen to be unsuitable by connections.

Suggested best bet: Metal Merchant in the 14:25 at Sandown

Metal Merchant has been to this venue just once before, when he ran a lot better than his midfield finish in a handicap over this very trip, having been made to wait before getting a run in the straight.

In the end, he missed the places by only 1½ lengths and he was value for finishing a good deal closer despite the surface being quicker than it is likely to be on Saturday.

His most recent outing saw him finish 7th/29 in the very valuable and very competitive Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at Royal Ascot.

Very significantly, he was the only runner from a single-figure draw to finish in the first 11 home and the ground that day was good-firm, which would have been quicker than ideal, so it shows that he remains in top form after three outings so far this season, the first two of which saw him win the 21-runner Spring Cup at Newbury before finishing second of 12 in another big Class 2 over that same trip off 5lbs higher.

Only a pound higher than that today, he is a major player and another big run looks on the cards in the likely favourable conditions.

 

Of the others, the ex-Godolphin six-year-old, Silent Film, looks to have been underestimated after running several big races since joining Ian Williams last summer, proving that he stays further than this in the process.

A never-nearer fourth of 10 behind Perotto in the Shergar Cup Mile at Ascot last August, he came from a long way off the pace on good ground and was value for finishing much closer to the principals.

Off the same mark here, the likely slower ground looks likely to suit his style, given that he finished a close runner-up of 16 with cut in the ground in a valuable Class 2 over seven furlongs at Ascot when still with Charlie Appleby as a four-year-old.

He ran off 100 that day and he still has plenty to offer off 2lbs lower over this more suitable trip, on a track where he also won a seven-furlong handicap as a three-year-old for Godolphin. From a handy stall 4, he could easily out-run his big early odds.

Next best bet: Silent Film in the 14:25 at Sandown

 

READ MORE: Saturday ITV racing tips: Best bets for Sandown and Haydock on July 6

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