Mondialiste a value play in Brigadier Gerard Stakes


Mondialiste may have been around the world, but can he go to Sandown and land a big prize? Our Will Hayler believes so.

Recommended bets:

1pt e.w Mondialiste in 7.35 Sandown at 17/2 - surely too big a price based upon pick of his international form, not to mention his best British efforts (subject to Rule 4 after withdrawal of So Mi Dar)

3pts win Zainhom in 8.10 Sandown at 6/4 - wasn't given too hard a time first time up in the Greenham and form of that race looks decent

For a seasoned global traveller like Mondialiste, the journey down from Yorkshire to Sandown is effectively like a stroll to the corner shop. That said, with temperatures forecast to rise noticeably, spending five hours in a horsebox on the A1 won't be a barrel of laughs for anybody.

But while that eyecatchingly warm weather forecast might not make the journey so enjoyable, it ought to make it pretty much the perfect evening to head down to Sandown to enjoy some very good racing in the evening sunshine. Furthermore, it will also help to reverse the effects of a serious amount of rain that reached the track at the end of last week and leave conditions - if anything - back on the quick side of good. In other words, just as Mondialiste appreciates it.

Since winning the Arlington Million in Chicago last summer, things haven't gone quite to plan. He didn't get the gaps when he needed them back over a mile at Keeneland (and possibly finds that trip sharp enough nowadays in any case) and was then undone by the ludicrously slow pace in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Back in action this season, unexpected rain turned conditions very much against him in the Dubai Turf, but his latest run at Ascot was harder to excuse, other than to say that he'd probably have been happier racing around a bend and that the small field didn't play to his strengths.

He'll therefore need to do much better if he is to take a hand in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes, but there's encouragement to be found from various sources.

Mondialiste was beaten on his first start in 2015 before winning his next three, and similarly underperformed quite dramatically on his first two appearances last year (although going conditions were undoubtedly a factor in both) before finding a richer vein of form afterwards.

Nor is it the case that he can't cut it back in Britain (and, by necessity, without Lasix) these days. He took a fair scalp in Mutakayyef when winning the Strensall at York two seasons ago and made Time Test work far harder than the market had seemed to expect in a Group Two at that track last season. 

The most compelling reason for backing him though, is that he's simply a very, very good horse at his best, and the form of his second to Tepin in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Mile is just better than anything achieved by these rivals so far.

The conditions of this race mean he only concedes a 3lb sex allowance to So Mi Dar *(declared a non-runner on Thursday morning)* rather than any weight penalty for his Group One win, and although I really liked the manner of her victory at Yarmouth last autumn, she looked as if a mile and a half rather than a mile and a quarter might just be her optimum trip this season when third in the Opera on her final start of the campaign.

There's a fair chance So Mi Dar will return better than ever at four, especially as her admirable dam progressed so well with age, but I can't let a dual Group One winner, good enough to finish second at the Breeders' Cup, go unbacked at 8/1 in a Group Three with fitness and ground conditions on his side. At the prices, it has to be Mondialiste here.

I tried to find a case to get Big Orange beaten in the Henry II Stakes. For some reason, we've never really got on, as I keep convincing myself - rightly, or probably wrongly - his best performances have been achieved granted relatively soft, uncontested leads.

At first glance, Quest For More looked too big a price having been another to sink in the desert mud in Dubai, but giving 7lb to the favourite looks a serious ask given that he's held by Big Orange on at least a couple of reasonably recent pieces of form.

Haddaf was one I looked at at a massive price in the National Stakes, as he paid a price for going off to hard against Cardsharp at Ascot last time. The problem, is, that he could run better and still finish third here against a field of Royal Ascot possibles. That's offputting.

Instead, I'll keep it simple and back Zainhom at odds-against in the Heron Stakes.

A decent juvenile, he was reportedly showing up well among the Sir Michael Stoute team in the early-season and it was no surprise to see him thrown into a Guineas trial last month.

In the event, he proved no match for Barney Roy and Dream Castle in the Greenham, but that was no disgrace at all, and Jim Crowley simply did what was required close home to see off his (admittedly uninspiring) rivals for third place close home.

It's hard to imagine that Stoute would have had him fully wound up for that run, and even a repeat of that form should be good enough to see him take this. This return to a mile looks a clear positive too.

Posted at 1740 BST on 24/05/17. 

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