DESPITE some noteworthy defections at declaration stage on Thursday morning, today’s Coral-Eclipse is still an intriguing contest.
Just six runners, but you have the clash of the generations that you want to see in the Eclipse, the Prix du Jockey Club winner and the Irish Guineas winner taking on the Brigadier Gerard Stakes winner and Prince of Wales’s Stakes runner-up, and the Tattersalls Gold Cup winner and the Dubai Turf winner and last year’s Juddmonte International winner. It’s a strong line-up.
Vadeni has been all the rage since his owner the Aga Khan paid the £50,000 supplementary entry fee that was necessary to put him into the race, and that is obviously significant.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s colt looked like a potential superstar in winning the Prix du Jockey Club, and he may well be a superstar, but you can pick holes. Everything fell into place for him at Chantilly, and he was given a superb ride by Christophe Soumillon.
Drawn in stall two, one off the rail, he was able to take up a prominent position easily from early. By contrast, the favourite Modern Games, the French Guineas winner, had to be used up early on by William Buick in order to get across from stall 13 and adopt a prominent position, and he was harried in the lead by Yoozuna, who ultimately faded to finish last.
Modern Games never got to relax at any stage during the race.
Also, second favourite Al Hakeem, Vadeni’s better-fancied stable companion, who was also drawn wide, was held up and tucked in early. He had to come wide into the home straight, and he could never really get into a position from which he could mount a challenge. He finished off his race best of all down the outside to take fourth place.
That performance by Vadeni was head and shoulders above anything that he had achieved before and, while it may be that he is simply a seriously progressive individual – and certainly, the fact that connections have chosen to supplement him to the Eclipse suggests that they think that he is – there is a chance that his Prix du Jockey Club win flatters him at least a little, and he is priced up as if it doesn’t.
Second favourite Native Trail may also be vulnerable. Charlie Appleby’s colt was unbeaten and unbeatable last season as a juvenile, and he was impressive in winning the Craven Stakes on his debut this season.
But he was beaten in the Guineas by his stable companion Coroebus – for all that he was probably drawn on the wrong side – and he wasn’t overly impressive in winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, a race that – Wexford Native’s game win in the Celebration Stakes on Saturday notwithstanding – is not working out too well so far.
He just doesn’t have the wow factor now as a three-year-old that he had last year as a juvenile, and he is unproven over today’s distance.
Bay Bridge could be the over-priced horse in the race. Sir Michael Stoute’s horse was four for four last season as a three-year-old, his wins including victory in the London Gold Cup at Newbury in May, a race that has a proven history of producing top-class performers, and a listed race win at Newmarket in October.
He started off this season by putting up a career-best performance to win the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes over today’s course and distance, travelling well through his race and showing a smart turn of foot to come clear of his rivals.
He had Mostahdaf behind him in second place that day, and Mostahdaf was three for three at Sandown going into the race, and has since run a big race to finish second behind Broome in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Former Champion Stakes winner, and last year’s Eclipse runner-up, Addeybb was third that day, and back in fourth was Dubai Future, who won the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot two weeks ago. The form is rock solid.
Bay Bridge was beaten in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he was beaten by the top-class State Of Rest, who was given a masterclass ride by Shane Crosse from the front, as evidenced by the winner’s finishing speed of 109.38%.
Bay Bridge came nicely away from the rest of the field, but he just couldn’t catch State Of Rest, who was able to quicken off the sedate early pace.
The New Bay colt has run just eight times in his life, he has won five of his last six races, and he is probably still progressing. Back over the Brigadier Gerard course and distance today, the course and distance over which he has put up the best performance of his life to date, and on ground that will almost certainly be easier than the ground that he encountered at Ascot, he could step forward again.
And the fact that Aidan O’Brien is not represented in the race means that Ryan Moore can retain his partnership with Sir Michael Stoute’s horse, and that is obviously a significant positive.
Old Newton Cup
You can understand why Gaassee is strong at the top of the market for the Bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
William Haggas’ horse has won his last four, and a 7lb hike for his latest win on his seasonal debut at York’s Dante meeting may not halt his progress.
But he is short, and there is a good each-way shape to the race now with a short-priced favourite and 17 runners, so it makes sense to back Something Enticing each-way.
Second in a listed race on easy ground at Doncaster last November on her final run for David Elsworth, Something Enticing ran well for a long way on her first run for Andrew Balding at Kempton in April. She shaped as if she would progress from that run, and she duly did so next time at Goodwood, when she kept on well to finish second behind Third Realm in another listed race.
She was well beaten by the winner that day, but Roger Varian’s colt could be very good, he runs in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud tomorrow.
Also, Something Enticing missed the break at Goodwood, she had to do a lot of running up the hill through the early stages of the race just to latch onto the tails of her four rivals, and she did well to stay on as well as she did after that to take second place in front of last year’s Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle.
She could step forward again from that today, and she should appreciate the drop back into handicap company. A daughter of Fascinating Rock, she goes well on easy ground, and her inside draw in stall four is a positive.
Her trainer’s horses are in good form, he had three winners from seven runners this week before yesterday, and Something Enticing could out-run her odds by a fair way.
Bay Bridge, 1 point win, 3.35 Sandown, 4/1 (generally)
Something Enticing, 1 point each-way, 3.15 Haydock, 12/1 (generally)