Connect bidding to continue on upward curve at Sandown

Epsom winner ‘in excellent form’

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Clive Cox is hoping Connect can continue the progress he showed at Epsom when he takes on older opposition in the Davies Insurance Services Gala Stakes at Sandown on Friday.

The son of Roderic O’Connor won in good style five weeks ago on his second run over this trip of a mile and a quarter, having competed in the seven-furlong Greenham Stakes on his first start of the season.

Connect is the only three-year-old in the line-up, but that does not concern Cox, although he would not mind a storm to ease the sun-parched ground a little.

“He won very well at Epsom and would appreciate any thunderstorms that are around,” said the Lambourn handler.

“He’s in excellent form and since stepping up to a mile and a quarter he has settled a bit better.

“From this time of year onwards you can think about taking on the older horses.

“He has proved he has a positive liking for the track as well.”

At the age of seven, Spark Plug is one of the oldest horses in the field as he bids to repeat last year’s success in this race. Brian Meehan’s charge was also second in the 2016 renewal.

“He has been in great form again this year placing in the Festival Stakes at Goodwood and running a very solid race in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot,” the Manton handler told

“He has come out of this race very well and has been in great form at home. I am confident of another strong performance and he should have a great chance of winning.”

Karl Burke feels Collect Call is capable of a big run as he looks to register back-to-back victories in the Davies Insurance Services Gala Stakes.

The Middleham Moor trainer took this Listed prize 12 months ago with Havana Grey and expects Collect Call to be competitive, despite her being the only one of the seven runners not to have won a race yet.

“She is a sharp filly and was unlucky when beaten by the draw last time,” he said.

“Obviously she is stepping up in class, but we are trying to get some black type, which is very important for those fillies.

“She has got a good draw and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her run very well.”

Burke thinks Life Of Riley will not be out of place after a fair run at Royal Ascot.

“He ran very well in the Windsor Castle. He’s a sharp, tough colt. He’s drawn out a bit wide, but he always gives his running,” he said.

“He’ll run well, but whether he’s good enough to win, I’m not sure.”

Chapelli was down the field in the Windsor Castle, but that was her third run in a fortnight after winning her first two starts in June.

Connections of the filly, trained by Mark Johnston, believe it was a step too far, too soon.

“She won her first two races in quite quick succession and it was probably a tough ask going to Ascot so soon after those races,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.

“This doesn’t look a particularly strong Listed race on paper. It’s a massive plus to get some black type and hopefully she should go well.”

Connect bidding to continue on upward curve at Sandown
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