Timeform select the three best bets at Sandown on Friday.
“The handicapper may have taken a chance with an opening mark of 87…”
Timeform on Rifleman
Rifleman – 13:50 Sandown
A cracking renewal of this good three-year-old handicap, and it is Rifleman who gets the nod after making a very promising start to his career last year. He is from a good family and looked potentially smart when opening his account at Kempton in November, taking some organising but seeing the race out strongly and value for much more than the winning margin. The handicapper may have taken a chance with an opening mark of 87 and this well-made colt is just the type to excel this season.
Highest Ground – 14:25 Sandown
This looks an excellent race on paper and Highest Ground is fancied to come out on top. He beat Waldokonig impressively on his return at Haydock last season and was only narrowly denied by Thunderous on his next start in the Dante, going like the best horse at the weights but his inexperience cost him in the closing stages. It is probably best to ignore his final start which came on soft ground and he represents a yard that have an excellent record in this race and are chasing a fourth successive win.
Palace Pier – 15:00 Sandown
Palace Pier quickly developed into a top-class miler last season, winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and following up in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville. He was underwhelming on his final start in the QEII, but the Gosden team had an indifferent time of it that day, and it is probably best not to take that form at face value. This looks an excellent opportunity for him to kick-start his season and he is very hard to oppose.