No doubting the highlight of today’s meeting at Sandown, with the Coral-Eclipse being staged at 3.35, with a high class field of 9, which pitches the Classic generation against the tried and trusted oldies over ten furlongs.
You will doubtless be astounded (not) that the favourite for this race is trained by Aiden O’Brien in the shape of the Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, currently trading at a solid 2-1. This colt has done little wrong as a 3-y-o, taking the Chester Dee Stakes before looking all over the Derby winner before being swamped by his unconsidered stablemate. With the drop back in trip unlikely to be a major inconvenience, this son of Galileo probably deserves his position in the market.
Having a quiet lurk at 5-1 is the Derby 4th, Eminent, beaten less than a length in ‘the big ‘un’ despite being squeezed out near the finish and his trainer, Martin Meade, has a glint in his optic when discussing today’s re-match.
Between these two in the market is the immensely likeable Barney Roy at 11-4, a price which purely reflects the big question – will he stay the trip? If this was over a mile, Barney has the best form, having finished second to Churchill in the Guineas (Eminent 6th) and then producing an impressive performance to take the St James’s Stakes at the Royal meeting, with an under-par Churchill back in 4th. With stamina on the dam’s side, there must be a chance that ten furlongs will be within the horse’s compass, in which case we are in for a cracker.
The older horses, frankly, don’t look good enough to trouble the young pretenders and it’s 8-1 upwards that they will.
As far as having a win bet goes, I’m afraid it’s ‘you pays yer money and you takes yer chance’, but there’s something else you should consider as a small each way at enormous odds.
Yet another 3-y-o, Salouen, trained by Sylvester Kirk can defy odds of 50-1, under Will Buick, and, although it probably won’t win, can make the frame.
Placed in two Group 1s as a 2-y-o, Salouen was going extremely well in the Derby and was yet to be asked for an effort when getting well and truly mullahed, not once, but twice, eventually finishing 13th. On to Royal Ascot, and a similar scenario in the King Edward VII Stakes, finally finishing 7th behind Permian.
With the hope that, just for once, the horse gets a proper bite at the cherry, he could surprise quite a few and reward his fearless e/w backers (that’s you).
As for the rest of the card, we start at 1.20 with the Coral.Co.Uk Handicap over 7f, in which Jeremy Noseda’s Firefright is a corking e/w bet at 7-1.
The Coral Charge at 1.50 over the flying 5f sees the reappearance of Charles Hills’ 3-y-o Battaash, who easily won a Listed race here last month, from the worst possible draw. Drawn much better today, he can take the step up to Group 3 company in his raking stride and should be backed at 5-2.
The Coral Challenge handicap over 1 mile at 2.25 has drawn a field of 14 runners and at a quarter the odds, backing Greenside each way at 4-1 looks a no-brainer.
Preceding the Eclipse is the Coral Distaff at 3.00, a Listed contest for fillies and this race looks at the mercy of the Richard Hughes trained Paco’s Angel. I would be making this a lot shorter that 5-2, so take a deep breath and lump on.
After the Eclipse I’ll be watching the cricket.