Runners to watch: Sandown, November 18th

Luke Krahe race reviews, notes and blackbookers from Saturday's Melbourne metro meeting at Sandown.

Race reviews: Sandown, November 18th

Blackbookers: THE TAJ MAHAL. May go to the paddock now but look forward to a big campaign in the Autumn.

Race 1: Thoroughbred Club Merson Cooper Stakes 1000m.

Notes: There was a lot to like about the first two placegetters in this, LONG LEAF (1st) showed good tactical speed to be outside the leader, was clearly headed early in the straight but fought back strongly and was probably doing best on the line. OOHEAD (2nd) was on debut, didn’t jump the best, was pushed very wide on the turn before running into it strongly and looked to have the better of the winner early in the straight before it rallied back underneath. A nice debut and they are clearly the two to follow from the race.

Race 2: Twilight Glow Stakes 1400m.

SHAGRA (unplaced) ran up behind the leaders early in the straight, was there to pounce before the leaders started to tire and was held-up the entire straight. Loved the way she got through the line when it was all over, she can be winning soon.

Notes: The winner YULONG XINGSHENG (1st) was three-wide with cover for the trip and got a perfect cart into it and finished off well. No real excuses for some of the others, the track looked to be playing well enough at this stage.

Race 3: Ladbrokes Sandown Cup 3200m.

Notes: DARABAD (unplaced) set up a huge break mid-race, must have been 25 lengths in front down the back the last time, did an ok job to stick on as well as it did after looking gone at the top of the straight. FANATIC (1st) and SWACADELIC (2nd) were the last two in the run and didn’t have to do any of the chasing. GALLIC CHIEFTAIN (3rd) was brave after sitting in the breeze and having to do a lot of the chasing. NO stars here.

Race 4: Kevin Heffernan Stakes 1300m.

JUNGLE EDGE (1st) got its own way in front, showed good acceleration early in the straight when setting up a margin and although it was all out on the line, was simply too fast for them.

Notes: Bunched finish will probably show that this lot are just behind the A-graders, KEEN ARRAY (unplaced) jumped poorly and was never in it and looks like it needs a break, as were all the back markers until right near the finish. OCEAN EMBERS (unplaced) didn’t have a lot of room late when running up behind the winner but not sure he was going well enough.

Race 5: Chandler McLeod Recruitment Stakes 1500m.

Notes: On pacers dominated again, DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR (1st) travelled well into the straight after sitting outside HELLOVA STREET (2nd), they went all the way down the straight without really being threatened, the winner just too good after doing the work. No excuses for the beaten lot, Jamie Kah showing that once again you lose nothing with her on top.

Race 6: Clanbroke Racing Doveton Stakes 1000m.

Notes: CRYSTAL DREAMER (1st) was well backed, lobbed on the bunny and was simply too fast over the 1000m. He always looked to be travelling better than any and as Matty Hill called it, his sustained high speed was simply too much. LADY ESPRIT (2nd) ran on well from a mile back, may have just peaked on the line. The others had no excuses with those getting the prizemoney just following him up the straight.

Race 7: Quayclean Zipping Classic 2400m.

THE TAJ MAHAL (1st) was absolutely dominant in the WFA race that saw his trainer win four in a row with the horse the race is named after. Sitting up on the speed, he showed great acceleration to get away from the chasers approaching the straight, 2016 Melbourne Cup winner ALMANDIN (2nd) did a good job to keep grinding home but never looked the winner. The winner who is another Williams import, looks to be more than handy, clearly has improved with each run in Australia. He will have a big Autumn I am predicting.

Notes: The small field gave every runner their chance, BIG DUKE (3rd) had a perfect art into the race but only battled up the straight, looked very one paced, the rest of the field seemed to be bobbing at the same rate.

Race 8: Ladbrokes Sandown Guineas 1600m.

VILLERMONT (1st) was impressive after coming from last on the turn. Once he got balanced up he joined in quickly and with the runner-up, charged home to win. Looks to have a big future with that closing speed.

Notes: PEACEFUL STATE (2nd) was enormous in defeat after not getting closer than four wide throughout, a lot of it without cover as well. Hard to say that he wasn’t a good thing beaten after the work he did. BLACK SAIL (3rd) was game in defeat up on the speed after pinching a break early in the straight, not sure he has as much upside as the winner and stablemate though. BEAU GESTE (unplaced) was friendless in the betting and although caught up in some trouble early in the straight, he didn’t accelerate when the winners went by, but got going again late.

Race 9: mypunter.com Eclipse Stakes 1800m.

Notes: Hard to make a case for anything away from the first two who were involved in the closest finish of the day. PAYROLL (1st) got a lovely cart into it three wide while the runner-up KIDMENEVER (2nd) came along closer to the inside. They beat third by plenty.

Race 10:

How well are the Waterhouse/Bott team going? LONG TIME AGO (1st) was midfield on the fence in the run, was beautifully ridden staying closer to the inside and ran on powerfully, showing that they don’t just have on pace types in the stable.

Notes: OREGON’S DAY (3rd) once again had a tough run and was gallant in defeat after sitting three wide no cover on the speed. She continues to get caught off the track this campaign, she should have won more races this spring. MRS GARDENIA (2nd) was also well ridden back along the inside, got out at the 400m mark and may have just been in front too far from home.