Sandown Park takes centre stage on a great Saturday of racing with the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes. It is one of the summer highlights with the older middle-distance horses taking on the Classic generation in the 1m2f contest. Some good’uns have won this down the years; that great favourite of mine Sea The Stars in 2009, Nashwan in 1989 and Dancing Brave back in 1986 to name but three. It is a cracking card with the Group 3 Coral Charge, the Listed Distaff and Marathon to enjoy as well, plus up at Haydock Park they host the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks.
The card at Sandown gets underway at 1.50 with the 5f Group Three Coral Charge. Sergei Prokofiev drops into calmer waters haven proven no match for Blue Point and Co at Ascot. The ‘lads’ at Ballydoyle clearly rate him and he is a big player at his level. I have a bit of the 4-1 bpg as he was drifting. Garrus steps-up in class having won a Listed heat at York last time whilst still with Jeremy Noseda and is the one that might be on the up.
It’s up to Haydock at 2.40 for the 1m4f Group 2 Lancashire Oaks. Nyaleti is one I have backed a couple of times this season with no return as yet. Sun Maiden proved too good for her at Newcastle last weekend (when I tipped her) but the grey put in a cracking performance to give a filly that will be competing at Group One level this summer a run for her money. I also tipped her each-way when she was seventh in the G.2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Ascot. She has been busy already this year but I am convinced she will win something like this at some point this season and think the 12-1 Power are going is too big.
The one-mile Listed Coral Distaff is due off at 3.00. Beyond Reason was competing at the top table at the back end of last year having won a Group Three and a Group Two at Deauville in the summer; both over the 7f. I think she has a bit of class and can make a winning seasonal re-appearance here at 11-2. Encapsulation was second to Pink Dogwood in a Listed heat when last seen running for Noel Meade out in Ireland. He is now in the care of Andrew Balding and may have more to offer after only three career starts.
The main dish of the day is the 1m2f Group One Coral Eclipse Stakes at 3.35. We all know a third victory in the Arc is the primary objective for Enable this year and connections have been in no hurry to get her back on track until they felt all was well with her; she was last seen landing the G.1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November. Frankie Dettori said earlier this week on Sky Sports Racing after a workout on the Newmarket gallops “She’s well, I’m very pleased with her, I’ve been riding her for the last month and she’s really come on, she’s ready for the run.” 5-4 was the best you could get at lunchtime Monday and I took that with the weather set fine and it apparently being all systems go. She is the best horse in the race by someway though I accept the trip may be a shade on the short side of her optimum and that is my biggest concern though you can be sure connections will have her spot on for this return to the track. Regal Reality won the G.3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes over track and trip in May (tipped on here) and the each-way thieves were nibbling his price earlier this week. He is rated 9lb inferior to the jolly though and has to give her 3lb! Chris Richardson, managing director of owner Cheveley Park Stud said in the build-up “One has to be respectful of a very strong field, and Enable is a deserved favourite, but if you are not in you can’t win – and at the end of the day we are not going to run away from one.” Magical has seen the back-end of Enable more than once and looks set to do so again here whilst Mustashry steps-up in trip and will need to step-up his form to get involved.
The two-mile Listed Coral Marathon (better known as The Esher Stakes) is due off at 4.45. Dermot Weld sends Falcon Flight and the 4yo surely has a chance based on his second over 1m6f at Leopardstwon in May. He couldn’t get to Twilight Payment that day but that was no disgrace remembering that the 6yo can out and won the G.2 Curragh Cup next time to give the form as a very nice look. Weld is a bit of an old shrewdy and any horse he sends across the Irish Sea is always worth noting. I have the Evens. Mekong is top-rated but his best form has the word heavy in the going description which he aint getting this weekend!
John Gosden sends Too Darn Hot across the Channel for Sunday's Qatar Prix Jean Prat at Deauville with the belief the conditions of the race will be ideal for last season's champion two-year-old. The going at Deauville was described as good-soft earlier this week surprisingly bearing in mind the heat wave France has had. He has been very honest about how he feels that have got it all wrong with the horse this year and a few days ago was saying “The stiff mile of the Curragh, the stiff mile of Ascot, and an extended mile and a quarter at York. I've made it very clear that I think we got it wrong with this horse this year and hopefully, the straight seven furlongs will suit him, as I think an easy mile would. He's a very fast horse. He's quick and his best races were the Dewhurst and the Champagne Stakes and I think it’s about time we played to his strengths." 5-4 was the best price about on Thursday.
Godolphin may send Space Blues and Royal Marine to take him on.