The Derby and the Oaks may be over but the weekend still has something special to offer. The Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Sunday looks a cracker.
Enable has her first race since having an unprecedented third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe snatched from her grasp by Waldgeist in the dying strides. That brought an end to her 12-race winning streak, which included last year’s Eclipse Stakes. Now she bids to become the first dual winner since Halling in 1995/96. Now aged six, she would also become the oldest winner since Bendigo won the inaugural running in 1886.
Her main rival is Ghaiyyath, who drops back in trip. He set a 12-furlong track record at Newmarket in the rerouted Coronation Cup. The shorter trip presents no problem. He’s won three times at 10 furlongs. He won the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes by nine lengths at Meydan in February.
O’BRIEN’S ECLIPSE STAKES PAIR
Aidan O’Brien runs two, Japan and Magic Wand. Ryan Moore rides Japan, winner of last year’s Juddmonte International at York. He finished fourth in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but should strip fitter here.
Magic Wand has racked up the air miles over the last 18 months, running in seven countries. She got her reward when winning Australia’s Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in November. She then finished second in the Hong Kong Cup. Back on home soil, she won a fillies’ and mares’ Group 2 at the Curragh last month. She now bids to follow up in the Eclipse Stakes.
Speaking of world travelers, the Japanese mare Deirdre has done her fair share. Winner of the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last year, she then finished an unlucky fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes and third in the English version at Ascot. She has not run since finishing second in a £2 million contest at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in February.
Sir Michael Stoute runs last year’s Eclipse third Regal Reality, who filled the same position last time out in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Bangkok, just a nose behind Japan in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes after making much of the running, completes the line-up.
WHO WINS THE ECLIPSE?
This looks a stronger renewal than last year and Ghaiyyath will make life tough for Enable if, as in the Coronation Cup, he’s allowed the run of the race. A third Arc is Enable’s main priority and her trainer, John Gosden has said she will come on for the outing. He added that Enable had found it tougher to “attain race fitness” ahead of her seasonal debut.
Thus, Ghaiyyath gets to vote to beat Enable in the Eclipse Stakes.