HORSE RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) talks us through his fancy for Thursday night’s big Group 3 contest at Sandown, the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.
Brigadier Gerard Stakes | Sandown 19.40 | Racing UK
The Brigadier Gerard Stakes is arguably the highlight of the domestic racing week and takes place on Thursday evening at Sandown.
It's attracted a very good field and it should produce a Group 1 winner at some point in the season, but who wins here?
Western Hymn (9/2 Ladbrokes) is five now and half of his six career wins have come at the track. He's three from five at Sandown however his two defeats were his most recent visits.
He's run twice this season so will be race fit but on both starts he has been beaten by rivals conceding weight to him, and I'm not sure if he is back to his best after struggling with Colic last season.
This is a hot renewal and unless he takes a big step forward, I think he will struggle.
Scottish (7/1 Bet365) ended the season with a listed win at Ayr in form that reads quite well now. He strikes me as a horse that will improve with time however he would need to produce a career best to win this.
He's been purchased by Godolphin over the winter and makes his debut for Charlie Appleby here but I don't think he will win. Nevertheless, he's the sort who will pick up a Group 1 abroad at some point this year.
The big two in the market look like the two most likely winners and both hold claims to be serious Group 1 horses. Time Test (5/2 Bet365) won a Newbury handicap on his seasonal debut last season before his win at Royal Ascot put his name in the headlines, posting not only a visually impressive performance but a superb time too.
He was somewhat disappointing in the rest of the season however connections state he needs quicker ground and he's got that here. He was pulled out late over the weekend in Ireland for the Gold Cup, which isn’t ideal prep, and I really want to see what he does here as I'm still not sure what his ideal trip is.
I still think Time Test is a serious horse but I'm not backing him.
The one I like is the favourite Intilaaq (7/4 Stan James). He made giant strides last season after his Guineas flop and looks a horse to keep on the right side of this season.
He won first time out last year, and last time out he was sent off at 11/4 for the Dubai Turf, which was a messy race, and he never got competitive.
His trainer Roger Varian rates him highly and he has been aimed at this and they expect him to win. He will be fit and ready and also receives weight from Time Test too.
Intilaaq looks a really good bet to me and I expect him to score here before heading to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales Stakes, which looks like a hot race.
Sandown 19.40 – Intilaaq to win (7/4 Stan James)