Sandown 15:35 Coral Eclipse
A fascinating renewal of the Coral Eclipse this time around, where the classic generation meet their elders for the first time, and it is easy to make a case for five of the nine runners in the field.
The current favourite is the Derby second Cliffs Of Moher. He looked the winner a furlong out before being caught by the fast finishing Wings Of Eagles, and although he got the mile and a half distance just fine, I have a feeling ten furlongs is where we will see the best of him. The Epsom form was initially downplayed as nothing out of the ordinary, however, horses coming out of that race keep performing. Capri, Cracksman and Wings Of Eagles franked the form in the Irish Derby, Permian was an excellent winner of the King Edwards VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Khalidi in second place, and Benbatl won the Hampton Court Stakes (also at Royal Ascot). Trainer Aiden O'Brien has won this race five times, and his yard is currently in excellent form. Taj Mahal, the 80/1 outsider, will run as a pacemaker for Cliffs Of Moher and ensure they go off at a decent rate. Ryan Moore will surely look to bide his time and strike for home inside the last quarter of a mile. The Eclipse is a very good race for trends, and 11 of the last 13 winners had a rating of 119 or higher. Cliffs Of Moher is rated 117, and this is one of the very few negatives that he has, the other being the fact that he hasn't run for 35 days, as 18 of the last 20 winners had all run between 16 and 30 days ago.
Barney Roy beat the seemingly invincible Churchill in the St James Palace Stakes, reversing the form of his one-length defeat in the Guineas. Like Cliffs Of Moher, he has only had the four runs to date, so he is still open to plenty of improvement. This will be his first run beyond a mile, and it is likely to be a very fast run ten furlongs, so his stamina will definitely be asked a question or two. He stayed on very nice at Ascot and is out of a Galileo mare, so it would be no surprise to see him get this distance comfortably enough. He also has a running style that suggests the extra two furlongs may even bring out further improvement than he would get over a mile. The one negative that he has is that 15 of the last 20 winners of this race had all won beyond a mile.
The Martyn Meade trained Eminent is the third three year old in the race that has a great chance. He was squeezed out a little bit when really getting going in the Derby, and although didn't have enough to win that day, would certainly have been closer. He is another who looks like a quickly run ten furlongs will really suit, and he will get his chance to reverse the form with Cliffs Of Moher here today. When looking for negatives it should be noted that he is rated a pound lower than the favourite at 116, and the Derby was also his last run, meaning it's been 35 days.
Decorated Knight ran an excellent race to finish second behind the superb Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales' Stakes at Ascot, and a repeat of that run will see him be very competitive today. He has an almost perfect profile for this race (the only negative being he has run five times this season and no horse has won this for 21 years having had five previous runs in the season), and trainer Roger Charlton has a little over a one in four strike rate over the past 30 days. This is a slight annoyance on what looks a perfect set up for this race, however, I am really keen on him and love the booking of the brilliant Olivier Peslier.
The fifth runner in the race that has a definite chance is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Ulysses. The Galileo colt was only just beaten by Decorated Knight at Ascot, and the fact that he beat Deauville over course and distance in April, bodes very well indeed. Ulysses is another that ticks a lot of the right boxes when looking at the Eclipse trends, and would have the perfect profile if he was a five year old.
Decorated Knight - 1 point each way @ 8/1