Tag Archives: Sandown Park

The Eclipse Stakes (Group 1)

Happily 27th July 2017 at Leopardstown

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




The Coral-Eclipse (Group 1)

The first generational meeting of the year at Group 1 level and it’s left to Mars to represent the classic generation as the only three year old in the field.

He was the talking horse of the Ballydoyle two year old’s ever before he hit the track. His Dundalk debut only added to his reputation but the bad ground of last summer meant we didn’t see again until this years Guineas. A mid pack finish beaten 8 L was improved on in the Derby where he went down 3 3/4 L to Ruler Of The World. Back to a mile in the St James Palace he ran his best race when third to Dawn Approach and Toronado.

Aidan O’Brien comes double handed with another talking horse in Declaration Of War. He didn’t fire when the money was down in the Lockinge but came back with a vengeance in the Queen Anne over a mile. He’s won over this trip before, a minor event at the Curragh but today will test his stamina at the highest level.

Al Kazeem has proven himself at the distance in the Prince Of Wales where he beat Mukhadram and The Fugue making her seasonal debut. He was building on the defeat of Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. He’s a worthy favourite, both times he was the best horse in the race.

Pastorius hated the trip to Kranji for the Singapore International. He couldn’t handle the heat more particularly the humidity and the run should be forgiven. The German Derby winner last year where he accounted for Novelist, winner of the recent Grand Prix De Saint Cloud , proved himself in the Prix Ganay beating Maximos and Dunaden.

This is competitive as you’d expect. Al Kazeem keeps stepping up, the Fugue is bound to come on from her last run, Declaration Of War looked mighty last time, the German form of Pastorius looks solid but the one getting the weight is Mars.

Only one three year old has won this recently, See The Stars. Mars has a lot to live up to but the distance might prove to be his optimum and the weight for age could be the crucial factor.

He may well take the advantage.

Recommendation : Mars 11/2 win

Bet 365 Gordon Richards Stakes and Bet 365 Classic Trial

The Gordon Richards Stakes has been won by Ryan Moore on three of the last four occasions. Those victories were for Micheal Stoute but with no runner from the Stoute stable he is free to team up with Clive Cox and Poet. It’s an intriguing booking for the ex Ballydoyle inmate who arguably gave his best performance here at Sandown last year when second to Workforce in the Brigadier Gerard. He will like the ground.

On official ratings he has 12 lbs to find with Twice Over who is on a mark of 125. Last year his two victories were at York in the York Stakes and that memorable win over stablemate Midday in the Juddmonte. He will come on for last weeks run behind Questioning in the Earl Of Sefton who did the form no harm when second to Penitent here yesterday.

Not content with Spanish as a first language Colombian was sent to France five times last year. He acquitted himself well finally getting his head in front when dropped to listed company in his last run in November. The soft ground will be to his liking.

The Godolphin pair of Hunters Light and Retrieve step up and on form the former having won two listed races, the last on the all weather at Lingfield, will be the better fancied.

Of the others it’s worth noting that Sir Putra has displayed his best form at this track when second and third in two Eclipse’s. If he can handle the ground it might just be enough to give him the edge here especially when you consider the second was only a 1/2 L behind Twice Over.

In the classic trial Aidan O’Brien sends over Imperial Monarch. He only had the one run as a juvenile when he won in convincing style on soft at the Curragh, He’s a 25/1 shot for Epsom and a win here will see that shorten.

Stipulate isn’t in the Derby however as an easy winner of the Feilden Stakes he must be respected. A win here will send him to the Dante as a serious Derby contender and a win at York will assure the chequebook comes out for the supplementary entry.

Rougemont isn’t in the Derby either however he is the most experienced in the line up having won three from five. He also benefits from an early run this season when pocketing the majority of the cash in the Tattersalls race at headquarters last week.

Thought Worthy does hold a Derby entry. He won a descent Newcastle maiden in the Autumn and the second, third and fourth all won next time out. The ground was more heavy than soft that day, conditions he will encounter again today.

It’s a tight call but given the O’Brien horses usually need the run and given the good form the Gosden horses have shown so far this season then we will have to be Thought Worthy.