Saturday sees the annual running of the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown race course. First run in 1886, the race is a Group 1 contest run over one mile and two furlongs and regularly attracts a high class field. This year’s renewal is again a top class affair with the Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn putting his unbeaten record on the line as he takes on older horses for the first time, including the dual Group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby.
Trained by John Gosden, Golden Horn is the 1.36 (4/11) favourite as he looks to follow up his recent Derby success. A three and a half length winner at Epsom, Golden Horn should have no issue stepping back down in trip having won over one mile and two furlongs in the Dante Stakes at York in May.
The Grey Gatsby won two Group 1 contests last year – the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly and the Irish Champions Stakes at Leopardstown, both over one mile and two furlongs. Three races this season have failed to result in victory, but a return to one mile and two furlongs last time out in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot saw The Grey Gatsby finish an unlucky short head second. Trainer Kevin Ryan will be hoping that with a trouble free run at Sandown, The Grey Gatsby could come out on top and he’s the 4.5 (7/2) second favourite.
Ballydoyle and Aidan O’Brien are represented by Cougar Mountain as owner Sue Magnier looks for a historic sixth Eclipse stakes success. Connections will be hoping that the step up in trip to one mile and two furlongs for the first time will be the key to success for Cougar Mountain who has, as yet, failed to fulfil his potential. Cougar Mountain is currently 13 (12/1).
John Gosden also trains Western Hymn who is a best price 17 (16/1). Two wins in April and May, both at Sandown were followed up with third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot behind The Grey Gatsby as he faced Group 1 company for the first time. Gosden will be hoping that Western Hymn has found the necessary improvement to be competitive on Saturday.
The outsider of the field is Tullius who is available at 101 (100/1) for victory. Trained by Andrew Balding, the seven year old may have experience on his side but is unlikely to have the class to win a competitive Group 1 of this nature. Tullius finished fourth behind Western Hymn in his Sandown victory in April before finishing fourth in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby day.
A key trend of the race is Group 1 winning form and with only Golden Horn and The Grey Gatsby tasting success in such contests, Saturday’s Coral Eclipse may well turn into a battle between the first two in the betting. With Golden Horn aiming to further enhance his status and The Grey Gatsby aiming for his third Group 1, Saturday’s race is sure to be a fascinating affair.
By: Scott McGlynn