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Coral Eclipse Stakes Preview – Saturday 7th July

Last updated: July 5, 2018 by Leon Marshal

The feature race at Sandown Park on Saturday is the £750,000 Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes over ten furlongs.

The Eclipse regularly attracts the top middle-distance performers in Britain and Ireland and features a clash of the generations. Several Epsom Derby winners have taken this route in preference to the Irish Derby in recent seasons, notably Sea The Stars (2009) and Golden Horn (2015). Five horses have won the Eclipse on two occasions including Mtoto (1987 and 1988) and Halling (1995 and 1996).

Halling provided the first two of five victories for Godolphin in the race. Daylami (1998), Refuse To Bend (2004) and Hawkbill (2016). Sir Michael Stoute has won the race six times, including last year with Ulysses who defeated Barney Roy and Desert Encounter.

Two riders at the Coral Eclipse Stakes

Masar favourite for Eclipse glory

The favourite this year is Derby winner Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick. The son of New Approach began his turf season with a brilliant nine lengths win in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket. He had the odds-on favourite Roaring Lion over nine lengths away in third place.

Masar was then made favourite for the 2000 Guineas but was beaten into third behind Saxon Warrior and Tip Two Win. Roaring Lion was again behind him but narrowed the gap to less than a length. John Gosden’s colt went on to run in the Dante Stakes at York, cruising behind the leaders before quickening clear to win by four and a half lengths. Gosden decided to run him in the Derby despite concerns that a mile and a half would stretch his stamina.

Masar and Roaring Lion met for the third time this season at Epsom. Once again it was Masar who came out on top, leading inside the final quarter of a mile before beating Dee Ex Bee by a length and a half. Roaring Lion had loomed up on the outside but did not quite last home, finishing two lengths back in third. If Roaring Lion is ever going to beat Masar, a mile and a quarter on fast ground would be his best chance of doing so.

O’Brien finalises Sandown plans

Aidan O’Brien has declared three horses for Saturday’s race; Cliffs of Moher, Saxon Warrior and Happily. It was surprising to see Saxon Warrior declared so soon after finishing third in last weekend’s Irish Derby.

Saxon Warrior was a beaten odds-on favourite at Epsom and was given another chance to prove his stamina at the Curragh. He appeared to stay but failed to quicken in the way that he had in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He could never quite get to Latrobe or stable companion Rostropovich and was three-quarters of a length down at the line. The son of Deep Impact appeared to have quite a hard race that day but was given the green light for Sandown on Thursday morning.

Happily was placed in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas and now takes on the colts. She stayed on into a close fourth behind Laurens in the French Oaks last time on her first run at this distance. Cliffs of Moher has never quite fulfilled the promise of his second place in last season’s Derby. He won a Group 2 at Naas in May but was beaten twice at Royal Ascot, most recently when third in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Hawkbill is a good horse on his day but sweated up badly at the Royal meeting before finishing a remote third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. That followed an equally poor run in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Forest Ranger has won at Newmarket and Chester this season but this is by far his toughest test to date.

Lots of horses racing

Coral Eclipse Betting Tips

Roaring Lion @9-4 BlackType

The Coral Eclipse Stakes is due off at 2.10 on Saturday 7th July and will be televised live on ITV.