The news broke just after six last night that Masar was out of the Eclipse due to his off-fore becoming inflamed after a knock at exercise. It’s a blow to the race to lose the Derby winner so late in the day however there was another surprise this week, the news that Saxon Warrior would run despite having had an outing only last Saturday in the Irish Derby at the Curragh where he finished a weary third over the mile and half trip.
The horse who looked so good over a mile in the Guineas is sent on a retrieval mission, he must have some constitution.
He’s accompanied by Cliffs Of Moher who ran here last year but was well beaten. In eleven visits to the racecourse since his Epsom Derby second of 2017 he’s only managed one win. He looked to be gradually regaining his confidence when second to Lancaster Bomber in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but since he’s been beaten twice at Royal Ascot.
Happily, Aidan O’Brien’s other runner form has been slightly disappointing this year. She was outstanding as a juvenile beating Masar in France’s premier two-old race, the Jean-Luc Lagardere last year. She went off favourite for both English and Irish 1000 Guineas and was third in both over the mile. She stepped up to this trip for the Prix de Diane finishing a close fourth behind Laurens. Now she benefits from both the age and sex allowance here which could be crucial.
Roaring Loin’s best run to date was in the Dante at York over this trip however those he beat have all run poorly since. In the Derby he was outstayed by Dee Ex Bee for second who was subsequently disappointing at the Curragh.
Hawkbill won this in fine style in 2016 and had a very good spring this year winning twice at Meyden including beating Poets Word in the Sheema Classic. That form has not been replicated on his return to England, he finished tailed off in the Coronation Cup and was again well beaten by Poets Word in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Forest Ranger has been a revelation this year winning his two runs both times beating Ballydoyle inmates. He beat Deauville and War Decree but again the form has not been franked.
Raymond Tusk is asked to do the near impossible, step up on two previous racecourse appearances where he won his maiden and was second in a Novice Stakes. It will be the shock of the season should he do so.
This is the first meeting of the generations, the first time the classic generation are tested against their older brethren at Group 1 level. To date this classic generation have been disappointing. With the exception of Study Of Man, the French Derby winner, no horse has stamped authority over their peers. Are they a poor crop?
Today will tell us more.
Saxon Warrior could find the kick he had in the Guineas, he could once again be the one to ooze class. Over the longer trip he’s bred for, he looked ordinary. Roaring Loin’s is probably best at 10f but he beat nothing of note in the Dante. Forest Ranger could be the surprise act but he’s yet to prove himself at top level.
Of the older horses only Hawkbill can genuinely be considered proven however his form in Europe has been less than distinguished since he conquered here two years ago.
That leaves us with Happily. She’s benefitting from the weight of age and sex allowance and her run in France, only beaten a 1/2 L by Laurens was a good one given the winner was winning her second G1 of the season. Added to her excellent juvenile form she looks the one to beat.
Recommendation: Happily 5/1 win