04/22/2009 11:00PM

Tartan Bearer back at Sandown


Tartan Bearer returns to action after a 10-month absence at Sandown Park on Saturday in the Group 3, $94,000 Gordon Richards Stakes.

Second by a half-length to the European Horse of the Year, New Approach, in the Epsom Derby and full brother to the 2000 Guineas and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner, Golan, Tartan Bearer has not been seen on a racecourse since finishing a most unlucky fourth in the Irish Derby, in which he was moved up to third via disqualification.

The testing 10 furlongs of the Gordon Richards should be right up his alley, and trainer Michael Stoute will have this Spectrum 4-year-old ready for action.

The primary challenges will come from Buccellati, the Andrew Balding-trained winner of the Group 3 St Simon Stakes, and Pipedreamer, a John Gosden trainee who spent last year chasing the likes of Duke of Marmalade and Mount Nelson.

* Paco Boy has been touted in many circles as the best older miler in England, but his dull eighth-place finish in the Dubai Duty Free, in which he finished nearly 10 lengths behind the victorious Gladiatorus, casts doubt upon that assessment.

Trained by Richard Hannon, he did win the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp going seven furlongs last fall but has never won beyond that distance and may find the largely uphill Sandown Mile, a Group 2 contest worth $145,000, a little too long.

The selection is the still-improving Virtual, a Gosden-trained son of Pivotal who has won three in a row, the last a one-mile listed race at Newmarket on Nov. 1.