Sandown preview: Expressionist taken to roar to success in Dragon Stakes

14th September 2021

Sandown preview for July 5 includes Expressionist (centre) in the Dragon Stakes

Expressionist shaped better than the bare result suggests last time out; so, now eased in grade, looks the one to be on in the Listed 5f Dragon Stakes at Sandown on Friday (14:20).

That run came at Royal Ascot where the Charlie Appleby trained two year-old colt finished ninth of 14 to A’ali in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes.

Although eventually beaten six lengths, that does not tell the whole story as the Godolphin owned son of 2000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder lost vital ground at the start when slowly away.

Jockey James Doyle allowed Expressionist time to recover and, after racing at the rear, he made headway when switched right at the furlong marker and then had to be switched again before keeping on to be nearest at the finish.

He was not given a hard time once it was clear he would not be winning and finished with plenty of petrol left in the tank.

It was a decent effort, given how the race panned out and – prior to that – Expressionist had looked a smart prospect when travelling strongly and showing a smart turn of foot to score by three-quarters of a length from Clan Royale at Ascot.

Judged on the manner of that victory and his run at Royal Ascot, there are plenty of races to be won with Expressionist and this Sandown event represents a return to much calmer waters.

The yard is also in terrific form and operating at a strike rate of 33 per cent in the last fortnight at the time of writing.

Expressionist looks to have lots going for him in this, so is worth a punt at the 11/2 on offer with Ladbrokes to get back to winning ways.

Liberty Beach feared most

The John Quinn trained Liberty Beach, who is 11/4 with Bethard, also drops in class and can give Expressionist most to think about at Sandown.

This daughter of Cable Bay won her first two starts at Redcar and Beverley in good style, before running a stormer when a 2 1/2 lengths fourth of 25 to Raffle Prize in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Liberty Beach showed bags of pace to race prominently on the far side from stall six and kept on strongly inside the final furlong.

She had no chance with the first three home, who were all drawn high, and raced on the favoured nearside rail which had a huge bias.

In the circumstances Liberty Beach did remarkably well to get so close as she did and it was a run which commands her the utmost respect in this.

Getting a handy 5lb sex-allowance from Expressionist, she looks a massive player for a yard that has been among the winners of late.

Fifth Position the Sandown Gala Stakes value

The other Listed race on an excellent Sandown card is the 1m 2f Gala Stakes (15:25) won last year by subsequent Lockinge hero Mustashry.

Fifth Position looks decent value at 7/1 with BetVictor to land the spoils in this renewal for red-hot Newmarket handler Roger Varian.

This three-year-old son of Dark Angel, who carries the famous yellow and black spotted colours of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, has only had three starts and showed progressive form in each.

After shaping with stacks of promise on debut when a tenderly handled fourth of 13 to Fox Chairman in a warm maiden at Newbury, Fifth Position duly showed the benefit of that experience when landing a nine-runner novice contest over 1m at Nottingham.

He stayed on gamely to get the better of Space Blues by a head and the pair pulled five lengths clear of the third home.

Space Blues went on to win his next two starts in fine style, before finishing and excellent head second in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, so that gives the form a very strong look.

Fifth Position has since run very well to be a 2 1/2 lengths third to Private Secretary, who has since finished fourth in a Royal Ascot Group 2, in a 1m 3f Listed contest at Goodwood where he held every chance a furlong from home and stuck to the task well.

Judged on that display, the drop back in trip looks sure to suit and Fifth Position is undoubtedly going the right way.

He also receives a handy weight-for age allowance from joint top-rated pair Elarqam and Royal Line, which means that on adjusted official ratings he comes out top in this seven-runner line-up.

Side with Emenem each-way in Sequel

In the 1m 6f Sequel Handicap (16:35), Emenem looks weighted to go well and appeals each-way at the 9/1 on offer with Betfair.

This Simon Dow trained five-year-old is on a long losing run having not scored since landing a class 3 contest at Lingfield back in December 2017 by a short-head off a mark of 90.​

However, Emenem has posted some really solid efforts in defeat to make the frame – including when a three-quarters of a length second at the same venue last year off 93 in another class 3.

The son of Sir Percy is now able to race off a reduced rating off just 80, so that gives him major claims from a handicapping perspective on the pick of his form.

Emenem has also comes into the contest having run well in two of his last three outings, finishing fourth to the thriving Soto Sizzler in a class 3 over 1m 4f at Epsom and an excellent staying on second to Dragons Voice over 1m 3f at Windsor.

Those efforts suggest he is well worth another try at the 1m 6f trip of this lower class contest. Emenem has won once and placed twice in seven starts in the grade.

He also has underfoot conditions to suit and the services of in-form jockey Harry Bentley in the saddle, so has more going for him than his odds suggest in a wide-open 10-runner contest at Sandown where a case can be made for plenty.

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