Saturday 26th May, Haydock, 3:25pm, 6f Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo)
Previously run as a Listed race, the Sandy Lane Stakes was upgraded to a Group 2 event in 2015 as a consequence of changes to the sprint racing programme in Britain. The race is restricted to three year old horses.
The betting can be an important factor when considering a likely winner of the race as nine of the last 12 winners have been favourite or joint favourite and two of the other three winners were in the top three in the betting.
A recent run is desirable as 11 of the last 12 winners had run within the previous 42 days with eight of the winners having run at least twice previously in the same season. A previous run at Haydock can be discarded with only two of the last 12 winners running at the course previously. Form over the race distance of 6 furlongs is very significant as all but one of the last 12 winners has won previously over the trip.
As the race is now elevated to Group 2 status a good Official Rating is required to be successful. In the three renewals since Group 2 was conferred on the race status a rating of at least 109 has been required to win.
James Garfield is an interesting runner off his Official Rating of 112. His last run was in the 2,000 Guineas over 1 mile when he finished a creditable seventh. Previously he won the Group 3 Greenham Stakes over 7 furlongs at Newbury. However, he does have the class and the speed to compete at this level over the shorter trip of 6 furlongs. During his two year old career James Garfield ran over 6 furlongs on three occasions. On his third start he broke his maiden tag winning a Class 5 Maiden Stakes at Doncaster. His next run over 6 furlongs was a massive and successful step up to Group 2 level when he won the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury by ¾ of a length.
His regular jockey Frankie Dettori is unable to ride him in the race as he is committed to a John Gosden-trained runner, but the excellent defending Champion Jockey Silvestre De Sousa should prove to be a worthy substitute. The going is ideal and he is a horse in very good form.
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