Brigadier Gerard evening at Sandown Park is widely recognised as being the best evening meeting of the calendar.
Watching the crowds come off of the train, across the course, snaking their way through the Go Kart track, it is immediatley apparent how many have come straight from work due to the amount of suits among them.
The action on the track has the same air of class, with two Group 3 races supported ably by two Listed races and two equally competitive handicaps.
The feature on the card The Brigadier Gerard Stakes is run over a mile and a quarter. It is a Group 3 but has been won by so many Group 1 stars with Commanche Run and Mtoto in the 80's Opera House, Pilsudski and Bosra Sham in the 90's through to Notnowcato and Workforce you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a much higher grade race.
With the Derby and the Royal Meeting just around the corner it provides great clues for the summer ahead as well as being thoroughly well contested on the evening.
6.00pm Cantor Fitzgerald Equities Handicap
(Class 5 1m2f7yds Gd-Fm)
The Jockey Club grassroots qualifier was run at a good pace, with Zambeasy taking them along with the prinicples tracking him into the straight. Two furlongs out Luke Morris kicked Interconnection into the lead and the chestnut looked a willing partner.
Ryan Moore started to get to work on the favourite Derulo, and it was quickly apparent the race was between these two as there was nothing finishing from the rear of the field.
Just over a furlong out and Moore started to become more urgent on Derulo, but Interconnection was not stopping and on the climb to the line was always holding the runner up, passing the line a length to the good.
6.35pm Cantor Fitzgerald Debt Capital Markets National Stakes
(Listed - 5f6yds - Gd-fm)
A race that has been dominated by the Hannons in recent times, and depsite the well backed favourite Steady Pace holding a previous verdict over their runner this year was no exception.
King of Rooks is a well made two year old and he bounced out of the gates and bagged the golden highway that is the far rail at Sandown over 5f. A little over a furlong out James Doyle asked Steady Pace to close, but as soon as Richard Hughes gave King of Rooks the office he cleared right away to win by five lengths as he liked in the end.
Buratino boxed on for second under William Buick, but once again he had the sight of the Potensis colours disappearing into the distance (having finished third behind another Hannon inmate in Log Out Island at Ascot).
This was an impressive performance and one that was very reminiscent of Tiggy Wiggy the year before. Not only because of the connections but for the turn of foot and the sheer speed sustained on the climb up the Sandown five. Obviously a trip to Royal Ascot is now on the cards and on this evidence the Five furlong Norfolk Stakes may be the route to take.
7.10pm Cantor Fitzgerald Investment Trusts Henry II Stakes
(Group 3 - 2m78yds - Gd-Fm)
From Speedsters to stayers, and the progressive Vent De Force was expected to continue his climb up the ranks in this Group 3.
Quick to jump he was taken straight to the front by Richard Hughes with the others seemingly content to take a lead he was rather unhurried out on the front end. Down the back it was clear Hughes didnt want it to turn into a full out sprint and the pace was quickenend passing the turnstiles.
Frankie Dettori was sitting in second on Forever Now with Ryan Moore wise to what was happening infront of him moving Simenon closer.
Two furlongs Hughes got down to work and Vent De Force responded well putting distance between himself and the chasers. For a fleeting moment Simenon loomed up on the outside, but a lack of a recent run seemed to take its toll, and it was left to Trip to Paris to try and chase down the leader.
He didnt have the clearest of runs approaching the final furlong though and Vent De Force just had to be ridden out to maintain his lead to the line.
This race ran the risk of being a tactical affair and it was controlled beautifully from the front by Hughes. Simenon will clearly come on for the run and Trip to paris was well worth his place in the field.
But ultimatley a clearcut success for Vent De Force who paid a handsome compliment to the Luca Cumani trained Mizzou who had beaten him comfortably in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.
7.45pm Cantor Fitzgerald Research Brigadier Gerard Stakes
(Group 3 - 1m2f7yds - Gd-Fm)
Tryster had been the star of the All Waether season producing Pegasus like fractions when flying home in the Winter Derby at Lingfield on the polytrack, tonight was his chance to show what he could do on turf with connections no doubt plotting a summer campaign that would take in all the main attractions.
John Gosden had walked the course before racing and decided to let both his contenders take their chance. He was to be represented by Eagle Top, fourth in last seasons King George, he was making his seasonal reappearance and was the choice of Frankie Dettori. The solid Western Hymn was his other runner, winner of the Classic Trial at the course last season and the Gordon Richards Stakes on his seasonal bow he was defending a 2-2 record at the track and this time was the mount of James Doyle.
Sir Michael Stoute has an impressive record in the race saddling the winner 7 times in the past and he had the favourite Arab Spring. A winner on his reappearance at Newbury where he travelled strongly over further before beating Pethers Moon. He was sent off the 2/1 favourite under Ryan Moore.
As the gates went back Moore sent Arab Spring to the front where he settled well, it was only an even sort of tempo and Eagle Top appeared to be going half a stride faster than Frankie wanted him to in second place, with Doyle further back and William Buick taking it all in on Tryster.
The pace rose as they turned into the straight and Tryster was pulled wide to make his challenge, but the acceleration was not present and he was quickly beaten. Eagle Top came there but was spent before the distance as a lack of match practice took its toll. On the rails Arab Spring had quickenend smartly and having form over further it was going to take a good one to get him back. That was until an almost motionless James Doyle arrived on Western Hymn. He didn't seem to want to get there too soon, but there was little danger of that as Arab Spring was boxing on well over on the rails.
A head seperated them at the line with Western Hymn maintaining his unbeaten record at the Esher venue and his ticket booked for the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot.
John Gosden told the Racing Post: "I told James Western Hymn was sppot on for the race.
It was a good performance and I was particularly pleased with Eagle Top who wants cover in a big field. He goes for the Hardwike and it's the Prince of Wales's for Western hymn"
8.15pm Cantor Fitzgerald Corporate Finance Heron Stakes
(Listed - 1m14yds - Gd-Fm)
This was run at decent gallop with Secret Brief taking the field along. Consort being rousted along in the early exchanges chase the leaders before taking a keen hol having been set alight to chase the early gallop.
But from a long way out there appeared to be only one winner. Consort had been considered a classic horse early in the campaign and this gorgeous grey once in the clear showed exactly why, outpacing the long time leader Secret Brief ( who was returning to form) in the final 100yds to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths at the line.
What was in behind him is a question which only time could answer, with the top rated horse in the race Johnny Barnes not showing too much on his seasonal reappearance.
This was however a pleasing return to action for the winner who is with the right trainer to keep progressing and he is a lively big striding horse that is likely to do just that.
Whether he gets pitched in at the deep end at Ascot remains to be seen but he remains an exciting prospect for the rest of the season nonetheless.
8.45pm Cantor Fitzgerald Quants Whitsun Cup
(Cls 3 Handicap - 1m14yds - Gd-Fm)
The concluding race was a tricky affair on paper but there was an interesting booking on the Keith Dalgleish trained Jacob Black. He had secured the services of Frankie Dettori who stayed for the last race on the card.
As the stalls opened Jacob Black was sent to the front under Dettori, who over the years has been one of the best from the front. Ridden just over a furlong out this seemingly competitive hadicap was all over and although the placed horses were gaining slowly towards the line he had done enough to hold on by a neck.
Back in the pack Master of the World Stayed on well into fourth and looks like there is a race in him, while the what seems to be habitually unlucky Elemraan found his usual troubled passage through from the back. He remains an interesting horse having just had the three runs in the UK and is a lightly raced 4yo.