26 April 2024

Hand Of God on target for Esher Cup success

26 April 2024

Hand Of God advertised his class to get on the scoresheet and provide Harry Charlton with a notable victory in Sandown’s bet365 Esher Cup.

The Beckhampton-trained colt had shown good ability as a two-year-old, signing off with a taking success in a Newmarket maiden, and put his stamina to good use in this one-mile event, as he beat off all challengers to make all in the hands of Ryan Moore.

Charlton, who took over sole control of his family’s Berkshire operation at the beginning of this season, is now toying with the idea of stepping the son of Churchill up to 10 furlongs, with Newbury’s London Gold Cup a possible next port of call for the successful even-money favourite.

“The Esher Cup is one of the famous handicaps and it is nice to win it,” said Charlton.

“I was told after he won at Newmarket that if he had run in the Sun Chariot that day, he would have finished fourth, so my time people told me it was a good performance, even if the form around it wasn’t.

“I said to Ryan that I thought he would stay and some of the other horses are seven-furlong horses that have been keen, that are now stepping up in trip. I said to go and make it and he should stay up the hill.

“He’s a great physical, who was always going to be better this year. In our heads, last year he was going to stay 12 furlongs but he probably won’t stay that far. Ryan said he has enough tactical speed for a mile but I think he will stay 10.

“I think he will ultimately be a 10-furlong horse and something like the London Gold Cup springs to mind if owner Mohammed Jaber wants to go down that route. We will talk to him and see what he thinks.”

In the opening bet365 Handicap, Andrew Balding’s Equity Law bounced back from an underwhelming return at Bath to oblige at odds of 15-2.

Owned by Jeff Smith, the mount of Oisin Murphy brought some smart course form from last season to the table and showed a good attitude to see off Shagraan by three-quarters of a length.

“He disappointed us first time out and we thought he’d go really well, he just got stuck in the mud, but that was much more like it today,” said Balding.

“He’s a smart sprint handicapper, so there’s lots to look forward to and he should keep improving. We will stick to five furlongs until after Royal Ascot.

“We will probably look at the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes and he will probably have to go up to about 90 to be safe to get into that.”

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