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Spear sharpened for total Eclipse

6 Jul 2017

Royal Ascot seems a very long time ago now, and thankfully the racing gods seems to be smiling on me as there’s been a steady flow of winners over the last week or so- long may it continue!

And so we go to Sandown this weekend for what looks an exciting renewal of the Coral Eclipse. Ryan Moore rode his 2,000th British Flat winner on Wednesday, and I was watching his ride on Notnowcato in the 2007 edition of this race the other day. It was a great ride to go to the stands rail, and the Eclipse was his first Group 1 winner which really launched his career. It’s a race I’ve certainly got my eye on.

It’s always a really interesting with the younger horses taking on their elders- albeit with a weight allowance of 10lbs. That’s an awful lot of weight to receive but they’ve yet to fully prove themselves.

I’m obviously thrilled that Sheikh Fahad and David Simcock have decided to run Lightning Spear in the race. It’s his first go at the trip on a stiff track at Sandown, so it is a step into the unknown- but a very exciting one at that. It’s a competitive affair, but we’re helped with a nice draw in stall 5.

As I’ve said it’s a good renewal of the race, so there’s plenty in with chances and the market is currently speaking in favour of the younger contingent with that weight allowance to help. I predict that Cliffs Of Moher will look to make the running, but Barney Roy and Eminent will not be far behind, especially seeing as Silvestre De Sousa is on Eminent, so you know he won’t be far off the pace.

Regarding the Frankel-sired Eminent, I think you can put a line through the Investec Derby and you’ll see the horse in a much better light this weekend with a trip much more suitable to his talents. There’s a total of 9 in the field currently and you can make a good case for all of them. Certainly a cracker for us all to look forward to on Saturday.

Before I cast my eye on the rest of my Sandown runners, I’d like a quick work on the Lancashire Oaks, also on Saturday, and a horse I’ve ridden and very fond; Rich Legacy.  She ran really well at Ascot when I held her up, and this is similar sort of race to that. I’m very keen on her chances in this to be honest despite there being a host of dangers. Of those Abingdon is the standout, but she’s got to give a lot of weight to Rich Legacy and I think Ralph Beckett‘s could be good enough. David Probert will be doing the steering in my absence.

Back to Sandown, and Lightning Spear isn’t the only exciting ride I have there. I’m very keen on Line Of Reason in the Coral Charge, especially if there isn’t too much rain between now and the weekend. He was rated 111 last year and he fell down the handicap. He’s won his last two and I think he’s value for his mark. In these races there’s not much between the runners very often and a lot depends on how the race unfolds on the day. Line Of Reason tends to stay back in his races and I will hopefully be finishing off strongly at the end.

Prost has been lightly campaigned this season and has a lovely draw coming out of 3. Ed Vaughan’s horses are in great form at the moment and the yard is operating at a healthy strike rate. Generally when he puts me up on one of his they tend to have a very good chance and I’m sure Prost won’t be any different.

I haven’t had much luck draw-wise with Naval Warfare in the Coral Challenge however. The work he’s doing at home suggests he has every right to be bang there. He goes up against Hors De Combat who I’ve ridden a few times, the race will be run to suit him and he’ll be running on well at the death.

Soul Silver wasn’t originally in the line-up for the Coral Distaff but was entered when the race re-opened. It doesn’t look the strongest of Listed races if I’m honest. Soul Silver achieved a bit last year for David Simcock but has a bit to find on the bare form with some of the others. Of her opponents, I think Tisbutadream will take a bit of beating, talented filly that she is.

Another ride for David Simcock is Goldmember in the Coral Marathon over 2 miles. He’ll have improved from his run at York where ground was certainly on the softish side for him so we can expect a much better performance come Saturday. The dangers are everywhere in this. Most notably in the form of Royal Ascot winner Oriental Fox, High Jinx and the horse I rode winning the Chester Cup, Montaly. The form of High Jinx looks particularly compelling with his third in the British Champions Series Betway Yorkshire Cup behind Dartmouth and my ride Simple Verse. It’s certainly a competitive heat, and anything can win it.

In the lucky last I’m on Archetype for Simon Crisford- he is another trainer who operates with a high strike rate so I look forward to any ride from his yard. He’s top weight for this which doesn’t worry me. I heard on Racing UK the other day that top weights in handicaps win three times as often as bottom weights- certainly food for thought!

Horse to Follow: Chai Chai, Chelmsford 6.00

David Probert rides this in my absence for Andrew Balding, should be winning soon.