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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

A super Solario heads a day when variety should prove the spice of racing life

Stuart Riley sets the scene for a busy day's sport

Arthur Kitt (green) and Richard Kingscote land the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot
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In a nutshell

The heatwave has broken, the rain has returned and the Solario Stakes is here.

Sandown's seven-furlong Group 3 has always marked the transition from summer to autumn, when the top juveniles come to the fore and ramp up the anticipation for next season – right as the current campaign is reaching its crescendo.

The unbeaten pair of Royal Ascot winners Arthur Kitt and Dar Re Mi's son Too Darn Hot clash with the Vintage Stakes second and third Dunkerron and Confiding, Acomb second Watan and Victory Command as they bid to add their name to an honour roll that includes To-Agori-Mou, Oh So Sharp, Bold Arrangement, Be My Chief, Alhaarth, Raven's Pass, Kingman and last year's winner Masar.

The Derby winner was not the only horse to star on Sandown's card last year, as subsequent Duke of Cambridge victor Aljazzi and York Stakes hero and International third Thundering Blue likewise returned to the winner's enclosure that day, and the fields for this year's renewals of the Best Odds Guaranteed At 188Bet Handicap and 188Bet Casino Atalanta Stakes have the potential to unearth further hidden gems.

Away from Sandown there is the Beverley Bullet, a £100,000 handicap at Chelmsford, and three Group 3s and the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh. The sun may not be shining, but the racing is still sweet.

The last laugh?

The Atalanta Stakes (3.00) has an intriguing make up. Veracious heads the market and is odds-on off the back of two laudable thirds in Group 1 company, but in opposition are three fillies who have won their last two starts – Clon Coulis, Awesometank and the John Gosden-trained Laugh Aloud.

Watch Laugh Aloud win the Princess Elizabeth Stakes

The last-named five-year-old Dubawi half-sister to Debussy has not been seen since annihilating the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom last year, when she added a five-length thrashing of Group 3 opposition to her three and a quarter-length Goodwood Listed win, and, while she has been off the track 455 days, she holds a whole host of Group 1 entries.

It is a vastly more interesting contest than the betting implies, albeit there are big enough fitness doubts surrounding the main danger to justify the short price.

Menuisier the History boy

Thundering Blue won the Class 2 Best Odds Guaranteed At 188Bet Handicap (2.25) at Sandown 12 months ago and David Menuisier is back with another progressive, young type in the Clive Washbourn colours in three-year-old History Writer. 

He won at the track two starts back and the extra two furlongs should help but, just as Thundering Blue encountered similarly progressive handicappers in Wolferton one-two Monarchs Glen and Euginio, so History Writer faces some classy opposition, with the Mark Johnston-trained Communique and Tom Dascombe-trained and Sir Alex Ferguson-owned Red Force One in opposition. 

Red Force One goes in search of a four-timer, something even the great Ferguson never managed in his stellar managerial career. Talk about a history writer.

Sovereign could be pure gold

With three Group 3s and the Irish Cambridgeshire there is plenty to catch the eye at the Curragh, but perhaps none more so than John Sisk & Son Round Tower Stakes (3.25) favourite Ten Sovereigns.

He made his debut over course and distance last week when winning by seven lengths and in doing so he became just the fifth Aidan O'Brien-trained juvenile since 2007 to record a Racing Post Rating of 100+ on debut.

It has since been suggested he was deemed the best juvenile in Ballydoyle back in the spring, before a minor setback, and were he to follow US Navy Flag into the Round Tower winner's enclosure the Coolmore hype machine would surely go into overdrive.

Watch Ten Sovereigns romp home at the Curragh

And yet he is not the only one to watch. The John Sisk & Son Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden (1.10) went the way of Saxon Warrior last year and O'Brien has three in this year's race, while Sir Michael Stoute saddles his first runner in Ireland this year when Desert Diamond contests the Group 3 Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes (2.50).

And then there is the Irish Cambridgeshire (4.00), for which bookmakers go 8-1 the 22-strong field, with no runner deemed to have a worse chance than 33-1. A genuine case can be made for every single runner.

Good luck finding the winner.

Reason pulls the trigger again

The William Hill Beverley Bullet (2.45) features Line Of Reason for the fifth consecutive year. It is rare when a jumps horse lines up in the same race that often, but when it comes to black-type five furlongs sprints – if your name is not Sole Power you are going to struggle to get in.

Two years ago Alpha Delphini claimed the Bullet, while last year Take Cover defied a penalty, and his advancing years, to justify favouritism by a length from Final Venture. Another year older at 11, but without the Group-race penalty this time, he faces a rematch with the five years younger York handicap runner-up Final Venture and his fellow Nunthorpe also-ran Mr Lupton.

On the same card the Beverley Silver Cup (3.55), a £50,000 Class 2 handicap, features the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Team Decision, bidding for a four-timer, and a horse whose jockey will be dressed as a darts board. As far as metaphors go, this is one that's fairly straightforward.

Don't try this at home

Racegoers at Beverley will not be the only ones interested in Guinness as, after racing, there will be two world record attempts by the horse boarding display teams.

They will be competing over a slalom course, as well as in long jump and land speed categories. Anglo Paddy, formerly trained by Sean Curran and then Neil Mulholland, takes part and, given he retired from racing with an official rating of 60, his 2014-15 form figures of P00P are probably quite apt. Hopefully he is a little better at horse boarding.

Record-breaker back for more

Poet's Society gave Mark Johnston his 4,194th winner, taking the trainer past Richard Hannon snr's record for winners in Britain.

As the trainer's first runner of the day, he could also give Johnston his 4,201st victory in Chester's Foxy Bingo Fur-Ever Friends Handicap (2.05).

It is a fiendishly competitive event in which he may struggle to bag the rail and the lead from stall eight but, given how gamely he found for pressure at York, there would be few courses better suited to him than Chester were PJ McDonald able to secure a soft time of things on the front.

The highlight of the card is the Listed Foxy Bingo Fast And Fabulous Chester Stakes (3.15), for which the Andrew Balding-trained Duretto is a short-priced favourite.

Officially he has upwards of 11lb in hand of his five rivals and this does not look anything like as competitive as the 2016 edition in which he finished second to Muntahaa and in front of Fabricate.

Fehily makes welcome return

Noel Fehily has been out of action for four months after a fall at Punchestown – from which he thought he had escaped unharmed – resulted in a fractured C7 vertebra in his neck.

Fehily spent the next eight weeks in a neck brace and is understandably excited about getting back to work aboard the Harry Fry-trained Serosevsky in the Handicap Hurdle (3.05).

Fry and Fehily won the race last year with Golden Birthday, while they also partnered up with 2014 scorer Henryville. Fehily also won the 2m5½f Class 2 handicap aboard the Emma Lavelle-trained Kangaroo Court in 2013.

Noel Fehily: returns after four months on the sidelines

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The Solario has always marked the transition from summer to autumn, when the top juveniles ramp up the anticipation for next season
E.W. Terms
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