Coral Eclipse Preview with The Tower

THIS Saturday sees one of the summer’s great flat races take centre stage as all eyes turn to The Coral Eclipse at Sandown. A race with a glittering roll of honour and rich history in equal measure, this year’s renewal will crown a successor to the great Golden Horn, who took the title in 2015. Saturday’s field promises to throw up some huge tussles with the very biggest of reputations on the line.

The betting is headed by THE GURKHA for Aidan O’Brien, who has been mighty big on reputation following his impressive win in the French 2000 Guineas back in May. He’s had just the one run since then when failing to justify warm order at Royal Ascot in the St James’ Palace Stakes behind Galileo Gold. Quite how that form stacks up in this field remains to be seen. I’ve watched that race back a few times and I’m not sure I subscribe to the theory blaming Ryan Moore for his defeat. Sure, he had to come from the back that day on ground softer than ideal, but had he been good enough he would ultimately have passed the winner. And if anything, Galileo Gold was going away again at the end. So as talented as The Gurkha appears to be, I wouldn’t be rowing in at even money when he’s still to prove his class at the very highest level.

Clive Cox provided one of the upsets of Royal Ascot when his MY DREAM BOAT landed the Prince of Wales Stakes ahead of a glittering cast. It was supposed to be the coronation of Japanese superstar A Shin Hikari but he was left eating the dirt along with a stellar field which included the likes of Western Hymn, The Grey Gatsby and Found. Really solid form that cannot be knocked. What’s more, the Cox team didn’t seem overly surprised in the aftermath that the horse had performed so well – and ominously for the rest they hinted better would be to come on a sounder surface. Now the big question is whether they get their wish at Sandown on Saturday. The weather Gods appear to be with them at the moment but that is very much up in the air. One thing we must say is he has been highly tried this season and will most likely be required to step up another level here if he’s to repeat the dose. But he appears a hardy soul who could well be up to the task.

TIME TEST looks the really interesting one of the pack for Roger Charlton. A horse who simply needs good ground to be seen at his best and, by the stable’s own admission, it is probably time for him to put up or shut up at this level. They clearly think he’s a very special talent but now he has to go and prove it. I really liked the way he went about his comeback win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. I was on Western Hymn that day and was cursing Time Test during that final furlong as he refused to go away and ultimately got up by a neck. It was his turn of foot that day that separated him from the field and once Ryan Moore got him rolling he looked a real class apart. With the cobwebs blown off he is probably value for a good bit more than the winning margin. If he gets his ground on Saturday (and the indications at time of writing are that he will), he looks to offer a nice value bet at 9/2.

Elsewhere on the card, the decision by Godolphin to supplement HAWKBILL at a cost of £30,000 needs serious consideration. He is a seriously progressive horse who has won five of his seven starts and did it very nicely in the Group 3 Tercentenary at Ascot. He’s entitled to come on for that again and Charlie Appleby is making positive noises about his progress. I do get the impression the boys in blue were banking on slow conditions, though, and with Sandown currently missing the worst of the weather forecast, it may just blunt whatever advantage he may have. Still, they’re learning about him as they go at this very early stage and it’s not to say he won’t act on a faster surface as well.

WESTERN HYMN is a favourite of mine and hasn’t got the plaudits he’s deserved in recent years. But when you look at his recent form, it’s easy to see why people overlook him – figures of 322223 rather telling their own story. As consistent as he is, he’s always finding one too good, and at the top level you will always be found out when those chinks in your armour exist. Again, he’s likely to be on the scene here and will no doubt continue his fine record of bagging place money, such is his consistency. But can he get his head in front? One wonders if that horse has bolted.

The 16/1 bar about the field suggests bookmakers have this down to a select bunch and I can’t say I disagree with them. The winner looks to be coming from the front three in the market and at the prices, TIME TEST definitely provides the best option. Whatever your play, enjoy what promises to be a great race and the very best of luck.

The Tower

20/1, 12/1, 11/1, 10/1, 8/1 & 15/2 winners since June 17. Sign up for more now at


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