Hanson: Spot Plays for Sandown May 23

May 22nd, 2024

My journey through the English flat season continues Thursday when Sandown hosts a meeting held primarily during the evening hours local time, but early afternoon for those of us in the U.S. My bankroll has been slow to replenish from its original $1,000 starting point, but there are plenty of great opportunities ahead.

Following last Saturday's action at Newbury, the bankroll stands at $697. I'm betting 5% of the balance on each of my spot plays.

Sandown Race 2 (National S., 1:37 p.m. ET)

There is a strong favorite here in Hawaiian but #6 Enchanting Empress (5-1), a filly, also has strong claims in this straight, five-furlong dash for two-year-olds. She's beaten males twice, first over the all-weather at Wolverhampton, and most recently by a neck over returning rival Rock Hunter in a conditions event at Ascot. In both instances, she appeared to win with something left.

Connections reportedly feel Enchanting Empress will do well up to six furlongs, and following recent rains this race might require a bit more than five furlongs worth of stamina. And for what it's worth, the history of the National is littered with precocious fillies beating the boys. They've taken two of the last five runnings, including a one-two finish in 2019.

Sandown Race 3 (Henry II [G3]), 2:07 p.m. ET)

This two-mile prep for the Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot appears as if it could be a re-run of the May 1 Sagaro (G3), minus that race's winner Coltrane. Caius Chorister, Sweet William, and Trueshan, who occupied the next three slots, reappear in this spot.

However, despite not having traveled this far before, #6 Chesspiece (9-2) is an intriguing alternative as the potential lone speed. The Godolphin homebred had a mixed record last season, but ran strong races in defeat in both the Gordon (G3) and Noel Murless S. His one below-par run was in the St Leger (G1), and he was subsequently gelded.

Fifth against a tough field in the John Porter (G3) at Newbury last month in his season debut, Chesspiece should come on from that rust-shaking effort and, again, might find himself dictating terms from the start.