Racing fans are in for a treat on Saturday with the Investec Oaks and Derby taking centre stage, but the Coral-Eclipse is looks to be the race of the weekend, if not the year, at Sandown on Sunday.
Enable, who returned with victory in this contest last year, is one of eight entries in the Group One contest and John Gosden’s mighty mare will be looking to get her season off to a flying start as she begins her preparation for a fourth tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the season.
The six-year-old is set to face strong opposition once again this year, with Ghaiyyath on track to take his chance in the 1m2f showpiece. Charlie Appleby’s charge has the benefit of a recent run and it was impossible not to be impressed with the way he won the Coronation Cup last time out.
It is hard to know what the ground will be like at Sandown on Sunday as there is a mixed forecast over the next few days, and the going is sure to impact which of the eight entries turn up.
Here’s a guide to all the potential contenders in the Coral-Eclipse which will be shown live on Racing TV at 3.35pm on Sunday.
Trainer: Andrew Balding. Rating: 114. General odds: 66-1.
We take a closer look at some of the leading contenders in the Coral-Eclipse
Looked a horse with a bright future when winning his first two starts last year before finishing down the field when sent off a leading fancy for the 2019 Investec Derby.
However, he had become a shade disappointing until getting back to winning ways in a Listed contest at Lingfield on his first start this year and has since finished fifth behind Lord North in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That was a respectable run and one that he should strip fitter for given it was his first start for 116 days.
Has always been held in high regard and probably doesn’t deserve to be 66-1, but he has plenty of work to do to trouble the main protagonists here.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Rating: 126. General odds: 5-2.
Racing TV presenter Angus McNae analyses Ghaiyyath's victory in the Coronation Cup with sectional times
Showed what he was capable of when winning a Group One at Baden-Baden by 14 lengths last year and it’s easy to forgive his below-par run in the Arc on his following start where he had a difficult draw and the ground would not have suited.
Proved his ultra-impressive win at Meydan in February was no fluke when making all to land the Coronation Cup at Newmarket in a course-record time.
A drop back to ten furlongs will be no hinderance and, if anything, it may even suit him better given his exuberant style of racing.
The five-year-old has always gone best fresh and, with only 30 days recovery time since his exertions at HQ, it does leave him with a question mark to answer.
However, Charlie Appleby, who has been operating at a strike-rate of 26 per cent in the past fortnight, has said “we’re dealing with a different horse this year; post-race he’s taking it a lot better than he did last year”.
Ghaiyyath is sure to go a good gallop once again and, providing this race does not come too soon, he is a big danger to Enable who he is only 2lb inferior to on the ratings.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 122. General odds: 6-1.
Japan landed the Juddmonte International at York last year
High-class performer who recorded back-to-back Group One wins last year, with the latter being a career best in the Juddmonte International where he defeated Crystal Ocean.
Was not beaten far when finishing two places behind Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on his final start last year, but it was disappointing he only managed to finish fourth on his return to action at Royal Ascot.
He missed the break in that contest and shaped as though he was in need of the run, so it is wise to expect an improved performance on Sunday. He also improved bundles for his seasonal debut last year.
Will need to produce his best to trouble Enable and Ghaiyyath though, and the pair may have too much speed for him over ten furlongs.
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Rating: 116. General odds: 25-1.
Regal Reality finished third in the Coral-Eclipse last year
Useful Group Two/ Three performer who produced a career best to finish third behind Enable in this race last year.
Found Group One company a shade too hot on a couple of occasions afterwards, including in the Juddmonte International, and was gelded over the winter.
Shaped as though the run was needed when third at Royal Ascot on his seasonal return and underfoot conditions would not have suited him there, either.
With Ghaiyyath likely to set a strong pace, that should suit this hold-up performer who is sure to have been aimed at this contest given how well he fared in it last season.
Sir Michael Stoute has won this race six times in the past, and although Regal Reality holds each-way claims on his performance last year, it’s hard to see him getting his head in front.
Trainer: Mitsuru Hashida. Rating: 119. General odds: 25-1.
Deirde was not beaten far in the Champion Stakes at Ascot
Popular mare who provided Japan with a huge success in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in 2019 and ran with credit in defeat on three starts at the highest level afterwards, including when she looked unlucky not to finish closer in the Irish Champion Stakes behind Magical.
Was narrowly denied when last seen at Riyadh in February, although probably should have won that contest on form.
Connections will be hoping any rain stays away as she has shown her best on faster ground, plus is another who will be suited by a fast pace here, but still needs to find more to be in with a shout of winning.
Trainer: John Gosden. Rating: 128. General odds: 6-5.
Enable's last victory came in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks
One of the modern greats who was narrowly denied a third victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on her final start last year.
Won this contest on her seasonal return in 2019 and this year’s campaign will revolve around a fourth tilt at the French showpiece.
Has the strongest form next to her name being a ten-time Group One winner and will prove hard to beat if anywhere near her brilliant best.
That has to be a doubt though given she is almost certain to come on for the run, and if there is a time she is going to prove vulnerable this season, it could be here as she meets race-fit rivals, some of which do not have huge amounts to find with her.
7. MAGIC WAND
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: 115. General odds: 16-1.
Magic Wand returned in style at the Curragh this month
Has become an admirable globetrotter and ran 14 times last year, with only four of her starts being in Britain or Ireland.
Produced some terrific efforts in defeat at the highest level in 2019 and gained a deserved Group One success at Flemington in November.
Returned with an easy victory at the Curragh this month which should have blown any cobwebs away and she will no doubt be off on her travels again sooner rather than later.
Likely to give it her best shot if she runs, but Aidan O’Brien’s mare does not have as much potential as some of her rivals.
HARRY’S BIG-RACE VERDICT:
Charlie Appleby provides an update on Ghaiyyath
It will be interesting to see how Enable fares on her first start as a six-year-old in this contest. The superstar mare has the best form in the race and, as a racing fan, I would love to see her win.
There has to be a concern that she could prove vulnerable on her seasonal debut though as her nearest market rivals all have the benefit of a recent run and she will no doubt be in need of this, with her main aim being the Arc in October.
I was thoroughly impressed by GHAIYYATH’s victory in the Coronation Cup on his return and a repeat of that performance would certainly be good enough to trouble Enable here.
Providing Charlie Appleby’s charge does not find this race coming too soon, he could prove hard to peg back under William Buick back over ten furlongs.
It would be a surprise if Japan is not capable of producing a much-improved effort with that Royal Ascot run under his belt and he will competitive on his best form.
Those at bigger odds, Deirdre has a chance of reaching the frame if producing her best and things fall right for her, as she looked unlucky not to finish closer at Group One level on a couple of occasions last year.
1. Ghaiyyath. 2. Enable. 3. Japan.Get your free Racing TV fleece - the latest in our range of high-class Racing TV merchandise! Click here for more details.
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