Sandown Classic Trial Betting

The Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial is one of several Group-status flat horse races conducted at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey in April. Indeed, this £50,000 event has become one of the main features of the annual bet365 Gold Cup Easter Festival, which includes two full days of racing, live music, gala parties and a stunning array of Easter fashion on parade.

The Sandown Classic Trial covers a distance of one mile, two furlongs and seven yards over the right-handed turf of the Sandown Park track. Entry is restricted to Thoroughbred three-year-olds only, making this an excellent complement to the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes, which is also run here over the same distance for horses aged four years and upward.

Each of the runners in the Sandown Classic Trial carries a weight of nine stone even. An allowance of three pounds is provided for fillies. Penalties are applied to entries successful in previous races of seven furlongs or greater, amounting to six pounds for Group 1 winners, four pounds for Group 2 winners and two pounds for Group 3 winners.

When this event was inaugurated in 1953, it was initially called the Royal Stakes. In 1971, it was classified at the Group 3 level and subsequently renamed. The word “trial” in the race’s title refers to its role as an early-season trial for the Epsom Derby. For example, Shahrastani won both races in 1986, as did Shergar in 1981, Henbit in 1980 and Troy in 1979.

The most recent Derby winner to emerge from this race was Benny the Dip in 1997. The bay/brown stallion came into the Sandown Classic Trial as the 13/8 favourite. Although he finished runner-up here to 11/2 Voyagers Quest, his Derby victory by a shoulder over the future St. Leger winner Silver Patriarch will long be remembered.

Sponsors typically insert their name for “Sandown” in promoting this race. Until 1990 the event was known as the Guardian Classic Trial and then the Thresher Classic Trial. Next took up the title role in 2001, followed by Heathorns and then betfred. Finally, in 2008 the sponsorship came to bet365, who have backed the event ever since as the bet365 Classic Trial.

Lester Piggott leads all jockeys in number of Sandown Classic Trial victories with five. He started with Sun Charger in 1957 and followed up with wins on Snow Cat in 1958, Ferneley in 1962, Sun Rock in 1967 and Artaius in 1977. The best rider here of late has been Michael Hills, with three wins aboard Pentire in 1995, Chancellor in 2001 and Above Average in 2009.

Among trainers, John Gosden heads the Sandown Classic Trial leaderboard with six winners to date. They include Pollen Count in 1992, True Hero in 1993, Linney Head in 1994, Santillana in 1996, Centennial in 2008 and Azmeel in 2010.

Regarding that last horse, Azmeel, bookmakers had the bay colt at 11/2. They appeared to have chosen correctly in picking Chabal to win at 7/4 when he beat Azmeel to the finish post by a length and a half. However, a banned substance found in sample take from Chabal and he was subsequently disqualified.

The last favourite to win here outright was Centennial at 11/8 odds. The last winner at long odds was Above Average, paying 25/1. Since the turn of the new millennium, the field has typically consisted of from five to nine runners, although 2002 saw only four starters, when 6/4 Simeon outran slightly favoured 11/8 Right Approach to claim his fifth win in a row.

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