Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday
Dec 03, 2018
Who wins the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday. Here’s a guide to all the possible runners in the Group 1 feature, which forms part of the Middle Distance Category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Trainer: John Gosden. Odds: 3/1
Form in Champions Series races: 53
Among the top two-year-olds and was an easy winner of the Dante Stakes at York, over the Eclipse trip, in between finishing fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and third in the Investec Derby.
It could be this is his optimum trip and not much to find with Masar, who has become a familiar foe this season, to judge by their past two clashes.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Odds: 7/2
Form in Champions Series races: 14
Anything seemed possible for him when he preserved his unbeaten record with victory in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, when he had Masar and Roaring Lion adrift.
However, he finished behind that pair when fourth in the Investec Derby on his next start and no excuses when third in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby last Saturday. Drop back in trip no inconvenience but will be making a swift return.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Odds: 7/1
Form in Champions Series races: 3
Two-time Group 1 winner as a two-year-old – the second of those successes being achieved at the main expense of Olmedo, winner of this year’s French 2000 Guineas, and Masar.
Third in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on her return and then filled same position in the Irish equivalent before moving up in trip and finishing a close fourth in the French Oaks when not getting the rub of the green. Little doubt she has won more big prizes in her.
Trainer: Richard Fahey. Odds: 16/1
Form in Champions Series races: 5-
Useful last season but has taken form to a new level this season after being gelded over the winter, winning pattern races at Newmarket and Chester.
Requires a new personal best elevated to this level but will arrive here fresh after two-month break and folly to underestimate with more improvement a possibility.
CLIFFS OF MOHER
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Odds: 25/1
Form in Champions Series races: 2447-4
Started 7/4 favourite for the Eclipse last year after finishing runner-up in the Investec Derby on his previous start, but he could finish no closer than fourth and highlights since have been limited.
Distant fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and then third in a muddling Hardwicke Stakes at the meeting just three days later.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Odds: 28/1
Form in Champions Series races: 18-3-53
Was winning his sixth race in succession when landing this prize two years ago and looked better than ever when beating Poet’s Word three lengths in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.
However, he ran way below-par in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom on his next start and was again not firing on all cylinders when a distant third to Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start. Needs a revival.
Trainer: Richard Hannon. Odds: 100/1
Form in Champions Series races: —
Unraced as a two-year-old but looked an exciting prospect when winning on his belated debut in a mile maiden at Newbury in April.
Beaten in a useful minor event at Newmarket on his latest start, though, when upped to ten furlongs, and now thrown in at the deep end.
Tony Hamilton is hoping the Richard Fahey-trained Forest Ranger can upstage Classic winners Masar and Saxon Warrior in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (2.10pm) on Saturday and provide him with the biggest success of his career.
The Group 1 summer showpiece, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series, has drawn a final field of eight. It carries prize money of £790,625 and will be the richest race ever run at the Esher racecourse.
Hamilton has enjoyed many big winners for Fahey during their 17-year association but none of them have been at the highest level and he will be riding in the mile-and-a-quarter contest for the first time.
The 34-year-old said: “Forest Ranger has got to improve on what he’s done but he seems on an upward curve and hopefully he will give a good account of himself. It’s going to be a tough race, and you’d be hopeful rather than confident, but it’s great to be involved.”
Forest Ranger was gelded at the end of last season and has shown improved for in his two races this campaign. He won the Group 3 bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket on his reappearance in April and was a commanding winner of the Group 2 Homeserve Huxley Stakes at Chester on his latest start.
“Chester was definitely a personal best for him,” Hamilton said. “It was the first time he’s quickened like that and I thought the way he went away from the field was most impressive.
I don’t know whether the gelding operation has had anything to with his improvement, but I doubt it. He’s a gent of a horse and no different than when he was a colt – I’d say it is more that he has just grown into his body.
“He’s a huge horse – the biggest in the yard – and is maturing. He’s just getting better with age and I think he’ll keep getting better.”
Forest Ranger’s record relays that he goes well fresh and he has had a two-month break since his Chester win. However, Hamilton has sat on him plenty in the interim.
“I ride him in all his work. He doesn’t do a lot at home and you just go by his wellbeing and demeanour,” he said. “If you are working him with a 60 or 70-rated horse he will just go with it, but if you take him with a nice horse he’d go with that too. They are the ones you want – those who don’t do a lot at home but sprout wings when they get to the track.”
The weight for age scale means Forest Ranger has to concede at least 10lb to the three-year-olds in the line-up. “I have no strong opinion on it [the scale] but it’s a lot of weight and could prove costly. We’ll just have to see,” Hamilton said.
Charlie Appleby is delighted with the wellbeing of Masar ahead of the colt attempting to become only the fifth Derby winner in the past 50 years to win the Eclipse in the same season. The other quartet have been Mill Reef (1971), Nashwan (1989), Sea The Stars (2009) and Golden Horn (2015).
The Godolphin-owned chestnut, supplemented to run on Monday at a cost of £50,000 after satisfying his connections in a dawn workout at Newmarket’s July Course on Saturday, created history at Epsom last month when he became the first Derby winner to race in four different countries – England, France, America and Dubai – en route to scooping the premier Classic.
Masar will already be having his fifth run of the season but his Newmarket-based trainer believes he has never been better. “We do tend to look after and protect them (the horses) but he’s thriving on his racing,” he said. “However he runs on Saturday, he looks if not better now than before the Derby. Physically, he’s doing well and he’s becoming a very professional sportsman.
“It doesn’t phase me dropping back to ten furlongs and the sounder the surface the better. His stride length is amazing,” Appleby said. As for future targets, he added: “We will learn a lot more on the back of going to the Eclipse.”
Masar will be joined in the line-up by his stablemate, Hawkbill, who himself won the Eclipse two years ago after being supplemented. He is seeking to become the sixth two-time winner of the race – the latest of them being Halling (1995-96).
The Three Lions of England play their World Cup quarter-final against Sweden on Saturday afternoon (Sandown will be providing a Football Zone for racegoers who want to watch the match) and coincidence backers will no doubt be drawn to Roaring Lion.
John Gosden, his trainer, is clearly a believer in the dictum of “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” because the Qatar Racing-owned grey has already run against Masar three times this term and finished behind him on each occasion – including at Epsom last month when he was third in the Derby.
However, this will be the first time the pair have met over a mile and a quarter; the distance which Roaring Lion excelled at when a runaway winner of the Dante at York in May.
Aidan O’Brien is one short of a record-equalling six Eclipse winners, having previously struck with Giant’s Causeway (2000), Hawk Wing (2002), Oratorio (2005), Mount Nelson (2008) and So You Think (2011). This time, he is triple-handed with Saxon Warrior, Happily and Cliffs Of Moher all on duty for him.
Saxon Warrior won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May and has since finished fourth in the Investec Derby and, last Saturday, a close third in the Irish equivalent.
Happily, third in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas,will attempt to become the first three-year-old filly to win the Eclipse. The last to attempt to pull it off was the German-trained Tryphosa, who trailed home last in the 1995 renewal. Pebbles (1985) and Kooyonga (1992) have been the only fillies to win the race, but they were successful as four-year-olds.
Cliffs Of Moher was runner-up in the Investec Derby last year and was fourth in a dramatic running of the Eclipse 12 months ago, when sent off favourite. He finished third to Crystal Ocean in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start.
The field is completed by the Richard Hannon-trained Raymond Tusk. He was unraced as a two-year-old but looked an exciting prospect when winning on his debut in a mile maiden at Newbury in April. He has since been beaten in a useful minor event at Newmarket.