A number of the Classic generation clash at Sandown on Saturday as a star-studded field vie for the Coral-Eclipse.
2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior and surprise Epsom Derby victor Masar lead the contenders. But the likes of Roaring Lion, Happily, and Forest Ranger all look well in with a shout.
The Ladbrokes News crew run through the hopefuls…
Charlie Appleby’s charge is very much the one to beat here. The Investec Derby winner has had a tremendous season so far. His win at Epsom pushed Saxon Warrior – the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas winner – way back into fourth.
The three-year-old star will step back in trip here but it should be little-to-no issue.
John Gosden’s main hope for the Eclipse, he’ll have to overcome being beaten on a trio of occasions by Masar already this season.
However, a win in the Dante Stakes at York at this trip will fill him with plenty of confidence that this is his natural distance.
Connections reckon he’s got the form and the speed. But it will be all about mentality here, too.
Aidan O’Brien will be mostly relying on his star filly Happily to pull off a shock in the 1m 1f contest.
The dual Group 1 winner will receive a handy weight allowance and she’s already beaten Masar as a two-year-old in France. But this will be her first time up against the boys as a three-year-old and that could have a huge bearing on her performance here.
Two disappointing performances have dampened the enthusiasm around O’Brien’s charge recently. The three-year-old son of Deep Impact was on for a triple crown in the Spring.
But his 2000 Guineas win seems a bit of a distant memory. Will need to pick it up again or he may not even finish in the frame.
Richard Fahey’s charge is two from two this year, landing the Earl Of Sefton and Huxley Stakes at Chester.
And our traders have reported steady each-way money coming in for him all week. His price has come into 10/1 from 12/1. He may well cause a surprise and finish in the frame. But to win it, the four-year-old is going to have to pull off a seismic shock.
Runner-up in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby at the Curragh, O’Brien’s charge drops back in trip here for the Eclipse.
And that may well be his undoing. The Frankel colt seems to enjoy a slightly longer distance and could find the going tough against nippier rivals amongst the Classic generation.
Cliffs of Moher
Despite being 7/4 favourite here last season, O’Brien’s charge could only finish fourth. The son of Galileo has won just once in nine attempts since and has yet to win a Group 1 Race in seven attempts.
The four-year-old has put in good performances in recent months. But there’s the feeling that he just doesn’t have the speed at this trip and a step up in distance would suit him much more.
A former Coral-Eclipse winner in 2016, the Godolphin star has won consecutive victories at Meydan back in March. But the five-year-old has disappointed in the UK since that win at Sandown two years ago.
He tends to favour softer ground so the good-to-firm forecast will likely be a hindrance. Of the older horses, he’s the pick of the bunch. But he’ll need to be at his best and conditions are unlikely to suit.
A recent win at the Curragh was impressive but won’t do much to mask the fact that he’s probably no match for this sort of quality.
Was heavily beaten at Royal Ascot, finishing sixth out of six in the Coronation Cup.
Richard Hannon’s charge is most definitely a promising sort. But with only two runs under his belt, is by far and away the most inexperienced horse in the race.
Connections will most likely be interested in a good run here for the two-year-old.
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