ECLIPSE STAKES, GROUP ONE
Sunday July 5th, Sandown Park 3:35pm
This race is named after “Eclipse”, a phenomenal racehorse and stallion in the 18th century who was unbeaten in 18 starts. His excellence inspired the phrase “Eclipse first and the rest nowhere”, which is still used today.
This year’s renewal of the race is one of those races we could be talking about for some time. The wonder mare Enable taking on the likes of Ghaiyaath, who is improving hand over fist, and then add Japan to the mix, who really impressed me last season. Magic Wand, Deirdre, Regal Reality and Bangkok make up the quality field and, for me, I think this race is all about one horse from a betting point of view.
GHAIYAATH has done nothing but improve from last season to this and the manner of victory in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket was exceptional. He beat two very good horses that day in Anthony Van Dyck and Stradivarius, who used the race as a prep run before he bolted up in the Ascot Gold Cup.
If we take the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe form literally from last season then Ghaiyaath will have plenty to find to get close to Enable but I don’t think that was his true running and I think the front-running tactics have changed this horse completely.
William Buick will need to be at his brilliant best as this horse likes to get on with things and, tactically, I think he could get the run of the race. Race fitness will also come into the equation and, even though the mares get a three-pound allowance in the race, I am not so sure that will be enough to rein Ghaiyyath back.
When Ghaiyaath was successful at Baden Baden by a wide margin last season, I was thinking if this horse trains on then the clash between himself and Enable will be nothing short of spectacular. It is a pity that there is no crowd at Sandown to see this great race but there is no doubt it will be run at a true pace and there will be no hiding places.
I took Enable on in this race last year when Magical was in opposition as I was of the opinion race fitness might catch her out. This time around she is another year older coming up against a very different proposition. It will all come down to whether William Buick can set off in front and set his own fractions, he will be well aware that Enable has a turn of foot, and so has Japan.
It could simply be the race of the season and Ghaiyyath for me looks the standout in the race and will be very hard to beat.
I am hoping Enable will just lack the sharpness on the day, but John Gosden will have her well prepared, like he did last season.
Charlie Appleby and Godolphin were last successful in this race with Hawkbill in 2016 and I think there is every chance they will be back in the winner’s enclosure this year.
It is a race to savour in your Bar One Racing shop nationwide on Sunday afternoon andthe best of luck with whatever horse you like in the race.