Classic clues aplenty will be on show at Sandown on Friday, while there’s the small matter of the Highland National at Perth to enjoy too. 

Here are Nick Luck’s fancies at both tracks.

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NAAMOOS can follow up his Musselburgh victory with success in the Esher Cup at Sandown on Friday (1.50pm) at 13/2. Although he has to concede weight to so many unexposed rivals, his tough performance there has been franked by the victory of the runner up at Newmarket next time, and he may still be ahead of the handicapper himself. The quicker the ground, the better his chance, as Sandown’s flat course is a good track for front runners on a fast surface and he may be able to dictate.

HUKUM is a confident choice at 4/1 to better a quality field in the Gordon Richards Stakes (2.25pm). Confidence from connections and the stable could hardly be higher, and this is a colt that looked right out of the top drawer at Royal Ascot and Newbury last year before evidently failing to get the trip in the St Leger. I am not worried about the step back in trip – his pedigree is full of classy middle distance horses – particularly as this should be run at a decent pace.

HAPPY POWER is a sporting alternative at 9/1 to the likeliest winner Palace Pier in the Mile (3.00pm). It is interesting to me that Palace Pier has largely been kept away from fast turf in his career to date, suggesting he has not been the most robust. In addition, this will not be the season’s primary target, and I suspect connections have an eye on peaking him for the Lockinge then Royal Ascot. In a small field, this might be the time to try to get him beaten, and the selection may get out in front and prove quite a tough nut to crack.

LONE EAGLE is a speculative pick at 9/2 for what looks a wide-open edition of the Classic Trial (3.35pm). Tough and progressive last year, culminating in a defeat of Recovery Run on the ground that was very possibly too soft at Newmarket, he is from a stable that is quite well forward and slightly unlucky not to win a Classic Trial at Newbury last weekend. I can see him getting a very good position from an advantageous draw. Yibir is the key danger from a stable going so well.


ALMINAR (12/1) could be the answer to Perth’s William Hill Highland National (2.40pm). This horse is massively ground contingent and bounced back from a poor run at Chepstow to win very decisively on a sound surface at Wincanton. The handicapper has been quite kind to let him away with a five-pound rise for that victory, and he can take another step forward under a claiming rider who is very good value for seven pounds.

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