It is not all about the football on Saturday as there are a couple of big races taking place up and down the country with the highlight of the card being the Coral Eclipse. We’ve previewed that race and one other big race here.
2.10 Sandown: Coral Eclipse
A fascinating Group 1, even though Derby winner Masar misses out & the field is now down to just 7 runners. Derby 3rd & 4th, Roaring Lion & Saxon Warrior, dominate the market with filly Happily the only other in single figure odds.
Roaring Lion has twice finished behind Saxon Warrior but is favourite off the back of his run in the Derby but perhaps most takingly, his excellent win in the Dante. The step back to 10 furlongs should be in his favour and I think, of the market leaders, he’s most likely to be suited by the fast ground.
Saxon Warrior, the 2000 Guineas winner, was thought to be the next big thing but 2 subsequent defeats, in the English & Irish versions of the Derby, raise questions. He is stepped back in trip but I’m not sure that’s what caught him out in either race. He only ran 7 days ago & that’s another worry for me.
Happily is the only 3 year old filly in the race, from the same yard as Saxon Warrior, & is the stable’s 2nd string on jockey bookings. After an excellent 2 year old campaign, she’s been disappointing this year, failing to get her head in front in 3 Group 1s.
Of the longer prices, Forest Ranger is in excellent form but this represents another big hike in class, Cliffs Of Mohler is probably just behind top class & is the 3rd horse from the O’Brien yard whilst Raymond Tusk is outclassed.
With each way betting down to 2, it looks hard to find a bet but there are each way markets paying 2 places without Roaring Lion who I believe to be the most likely winner. This has tempted me to get involved & the one I’m backing is Hawkbill. He’s now a 5 year old, is a former winner of the Eclipse & has already won in Group 1 company this year so seeing a double figure price about him, even after Roaring Lion, is too appealing to turn down.
A winner of 7 of his 18 starts which includes the 2016 Eclipse & this year’s Sheema Classic, he’s now ridden by William Buick who was supposed to be riding Masar before his withdrawal. Let’s remember he’s 1 from 1 at this track, he goes on the ground & finished 3 lengths in front of Poets Word when winning in Dubai early this year. That’s the same Poets Word who beat Cracksman in the Prince Of Wales at Royal Ascot; admittedly, our horse was further back in 3rd but he sweated badly beforehand &, in the circumstances, he ran quite well. At the current odds, he has a great shout.
Back Hawkbill in the “without Roaring Lion” market (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 7.00 BetVictor (¼ odds 1-2)
1.45 Haydock: Old Newton Cup
A competitive renewal of this famous race, as always. Atty Persse is the typical Group horse in a handicap, the difference being he’s going back to a handicap having tried Group company. He really could be better than this lot but a year’s absence, coupled with a price around 4/1, is enough to put me off.
Of the other fancied horses, I believe the progressive Teodoro needs a smaller field whilst Golden Wolf, a horse I backed last time, has a heavy dose of seconditis & I’m starting to question how genuine he really is.
There are 2 I like to have on side here. The first is Crowned Eagle from a yard that has won with its last 2 runners in this race. He started the reason off a mark of 95 & he’s now off 102 but has improved from run to run. First up, he won the Rosebery on the AW before finishing an unlucky off 4lbs higher to a progressive type in Hamada, the pair coming clear. He ran another good race in defeat at Royal Ascot but was no match for Dash Of Spice & eventually faded out of it. There’s a concern that the pace will be strong & he’ll struggle to dominate but I’m not sure totally convinced he needs to lead. I think the flatter track here will suit & he looks a hold solid each way claims.
The other I like is 1 of 4 from a yard that’s won 2 of the last 5 runnings. That horse is Titi Makfi. Last season, he won 4 on the spin in the summer & had a 6 from 11 record overall, with a further 2 2nd placed runs. That saw his mark rise from 70 to over 100, This year, he hasn’t managed to get his head in front but he’s been plying his trade almost exclusive in Listed or Group company, without being totally disgraced. 2 starts ago, he was 2nd to Mia Tesoro in the Nottinghamshire Oaks & was 4th of 7 last time at Pontefract over this trip. He was 1 place behind Winginit that day but is 1lb better off at the weights. I believe that this bigger field will suit; he’s run mostly in single figure fields but his record in 12+ runner races reads 3/16 (at 14/1), 2/13 (at 12/1), 3/12 (at 7/1), 2/20 (at 8/1) & 3/14 (at 5/1). Interestingly, the 20 runner race yielded his best ever RPR. He’s a big price & cannot be left out of calculations.
PLACED – Back Crowned Eagle (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
PLACED – Back Titi Makfi (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)