Coral-Eclipse: Runner-by-runner guide to Sandown Group One plus big-race verdict from Declan Rix

An exciting six-runner Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday is put under the spotlight by Declan Rix.

A small but select field has been declared for the 2022 renewal of the Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday. No Ballydoyle participation means, on paper, we have a race lacking in early speed and no Coolmore entry means Richard Kingscote is again incredibly unlucky not to pick up the ride on Bay Bridge, with Ryan Moore available.

Of the seven in, Bay Bridge is the only horse not to have scored at Group One level, in a race which boasts three different Classic winners, including two previous French Derby heroes. As ever, it’s an exciting clash of the generations, the reason the Eclipse is often special.

Soon after 3.35pm we will all hopefully have a better understanding of the intertwining form lines between the Classic generation and the older horses…

1 – Alenquer (stall 6)

Trainer: William Haggas; Jockey: Tom Marquand

A likeable, tough and straightforward colt who showed a great attitude to run down High Definition in the Tattersalls Gold Cup 41 days ago, securing him a first win at Group One level.

He’s probably better than that bare form given he did well to collar the runner-up who got loose on the lead with a slight tailwind pushing them home.

He will need to improve on that effort to win here though, and it must be a worry he likely won’t get the same kind of pace to run at, unless he makes his own running. He’s a course and distance winner however, game and the type to take advantage should others underperform.

Alenquer and Tom Marquand win the Tattersalls Gold Cup from High Definiton (far) and State Of Rest (near)

2 – Bay Bridge (2)

Sir Michael Stoute; Ryan Moore

Progressed in four starts as a three-year-old last year, but took his form to new heights on his 2022 debut, bolting up by five lengths in the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes over this course and distance.

He was turned over at 10/11 in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, given a little bit too much to do off a tactical gallop having covered more ground out wide than the winner, State Of Rest.

Under the circumstances, he ran a hugely creditable race. From a betting perspective, he’s a far fairer price this time around. Leading player.

Bay Bridge ridden by Ryan Moore wins The BetVictor London Gold Cup Handicap
Bay Bridge ridden by Ryan Moore wins The BetVictor London Gold Cup Handicap

3 – Lord North (1)

John & Thady Gosden; James Doyle

His 2020 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes victory form means he looks a big price at 25/1, but he has slowly regressed form-wise since, maybe no surprise given he was reportedly very sick during the late 2021 campaign, his trainer suggesting he was lucky to make it back to the track.

Under those circumstances, Lord North deserves huge credit for dead-heating in this year’s Dubai Turf.

Form has again gone south however in two subsequent starts, although his latest run is easily excused given his rider forgot to remove his blindfold as the stalls opened. He looks overpriced but hard to fancy at the same time.

Lord North
Lord North had a disastrous trip to Royal Ascot this year

4 – Mishriff (3)

John & Thady Gosden; David Egan

For my money, his second in last year’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes behind Adayar and his scintillating Juddmonte International win are comfortably the two best pieces of form on offer in this race, but since that York victory, in two starts, his form has dipped significantly.

The end of a long season and an early start to this one, respectively, could be excuses for that pair of poor runs, but it’s hard to have confidence in him on the back of those efforts.

He’s a must-watch in the market in the 10 minutes leading up to the off however, because the current 8/1, on his peak form, is a huge price, especially as he’ll get his favoured fast ground. Are those odds too good to be true though? Is he the same horse still? If he is, he is a big price.

Mishriff wins the Juddmonte International at York under David Egan
Mishriff wins the Juddmonte International at York under David Egan

5 – Native Trail (5)

Charlie Appleby; William Buick

Unbeaten in four starts as a juvenile last year, including in two Group Ones, the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes.

Started 2022 nicely, winning the Craven Stakes from Claymore before a slightly unlucky second in the 2000 Guineas; possibly drawn on the wrong side on a track he didn’t appear in love with.

Comes here on the back of an Irish 2000 Guineas success, but that was a poor race this season and he was pretty workmanlike in winning, performing 5lb below his 2000 Guineas effort. Was that due to ground or has he peaked in his career? He’s hard to fancy if the latter, especially over a trip that’s not guaranteed to suit on pedigree, physique or visuals.

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William Buick, jockey of Native Trail, says he expects the three-year-old to relish stepping up to the ten-furlong trip at Sandown on Saturday.

6 – Vadeni (4)

Jean-Claude Rouget; Christophe Soumillon

This French raider who comes here on the back of a visually-stunning five length success in the Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby to you and I. Nothing before that comfortable career best suggested he had that in the locker, and on the day, the race fell perfectly for him.

From a low draw off a good gallop, where the race market leader (Modern Games) was constantly pestered throughout, Christophe Soumillon sat in the perfect position (fifth) in a race where those held up struggled to make any significant impact.

I suspect that while he’s clearly progressed, that bare form flatters him so with the son of Churchill taking on better horses and priced at 7/4, I’m happy to look elsewhere.

Declan’s Verdict

Six runners and not one natural pace-setter makes this season’s Eclipse a potentially difficult race to decipher. While the case, it would be a small surprise if the gritty and strong-staying Alenquer didn’t make this somewhat of a test under Tom Marquand. Whether or not that suits, we will have to wait and see, but I’d be confident he won’t outsprint this field.

Off a good gallop or a tactical one, BAY BRIDGE can show his best and it is he who will get the nod in an open contest. As he showed in winning the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, the son of New Bay is at home on this track and his price of 4/1 is maybe a point bigger than what it should be.

That is thanks to the presence of Vadeni (7/4) who could be as good as his price suggests, but I’d like to see him perform to a top-class level again in a race that could well set up in contrasting style to the French Derby he won.

I can’t understate how overpriced Mishriff is at 8/1 on his best form, but he comes here on the back of a poor run, off a layoff, and he clearly needed the race when third to St Mark’s Basilica in this contest last year.

If “the vibes” and market speak in his favour close to the off, I would be happy be back him down to 4/1, but his price possibly suggests he isn’t the same horse as last summer or he will again need this run.

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