Select Eclipse the Focus on Saturday

Mishriff (Ire) | Horsephotos

Tactical nuance will be the order of the day in Saturday's G1 Coral-Eclipse, with Sandown's prestige affair hosting a trio of male thoroughbreds who have been tested and proven internationally and just one other very much on the fringe. With the big three of Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}), Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) and St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) responsible for nine top-level victories between them in this country, France, Dubai and Australia, this renewal really does offer something different. All of them have a largely consistent profile with valid excuses for any rare dips in form and so the two imponderables that will dictate the outcome could be the way the race will be run on the day and whether the ever-contentious 10-pound weight-for-age differential in favour of Ballydoyle's 3-year-old is simply too much.

There is a sense that for all that St Mark's Basilica has now won three group 1 races in succession in the Dewhurst, Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club, he is still a work in progress whose ceiling has not been approached. The manner of his last two performances suggest he was going through the motions at ParisLongchamp May 16 and at Chantilly June 6, but he will be seriously tested here against two campaigners hardened by significant overseas challenges. In recent times, 3-year-olds with the equivalent level of form entering this “clash of the generations” have fared well, with the Kitten's Joy pair of Roaring Lion and Hawkbill and Golden Horn (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}) bettering their elders. “We've been delighted with him this season, both his runs,” Aidan O'Brien said. “Everything went well before them and everything has gone well since. The ground is drying up and I'd imagine that the more it dries up the more it will suit him.”

Officially top-rated and three pounds clear of Mishriff, Addeybb has been places his opponents can only dream of at present with his increasing age apparently bringing increased potency. Having beaten Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) in the last two renewals of Randwick's G1 Queen Elizabeth S. and in Rosehill's G1 Ranvet S. last March, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum's 7-year-old also took care of France's star Skalleti (Fr) (Kendargent {Fr}) on the extremely testing ground that suits him so well in the G1 Champion S. in October. He showed in the latest renewal of the Ranvet that he is not so ground-dependant as many believe and his presence here evokes memories of the owner's dual winner Mtoto (GB) in the 80's.

Like Addeybb, Mishriff is another who was not an obvious leading light at the outset but who continues to confound with his performances. Well-beaten when eighth in the Champion, the record of Prince Faisal's homebred is otherwise flawless of late and his 2021 successes on Riyadh's dirt in the Feb. 20 Saudi Cup and from a wide draw in the Mar. 27 G1 Dubai Sheema Classic mark him out as a rarity. The latter display confirmed his stamina for 12 furlongs, while he has an admirable attitude which is all there in the visuals of his running style so it will be a surprise if David Egan does not opt to attempt to dictate here. With his characteristic low head carriage, it is a case of how much he can draw the sting from his rivals who possess a greater turn of acceleration up Sandown's remorseless climb to the line.

This is a major moment in Egan's career and he is geared up for it. “I'm very excited to have a ride in a race like this and am looking forward to it,” he said on Friday. “To have the pace to follow two American horses over nine furlongs on the dirt and then be able to relax as well as he did over a mile and a half in Dubai a few weeks later is quite sensational and I can't think of another horse who could do that. He is very mature–he travelled to Riyadh for the Derby as a 3-year-old and then went to France twice, he was back out to Riyadh this year and back to England before Meydan so he enjoys the travelling. Looking at his coat and his physicality, he doesn't lose any condition and is always very fresh and well in himself. The team at home have done a very good job with him.”

At Haydock, the feature is the G2 Lancashire Oaks where Nick Bradley Racing's June 4 G1 Epsom Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel (Ire) (Kodi Bear {Ire}) faces Kirsten Rausing's 2020 G1 Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and five other older fillies and mares. Trainer George Boughey said of the hard-grafting 3-year-old, “She's done very well since the Oaks and I don't think she's ever trained better. She's in super shape and her work has been good, so she's showing all the right signs. She gets a lot of weight and it's one of those things where it's quite hard to place against her own age, so you've got to take the older rivals on. There doesn't look to be a huge amount of pace in the race and it might just suit her–she's a big galloping filly who clearly stayed the mile and a half well in the Oaks in tricky ground and I think it looks the right spot for her.”

Back at Sandown, the G3 Coral Charge over five furlongs sees the June 15 G1 King's Stand S. runner-up Arecibo (Fr) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) attempt to build on that career-best performance against a clutch of tough sprinters and the fast-emerging 3-year-old Atalis Bay (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}). Successful in the course-and-distance Listed Scurry S. June 12, Scuderia Blueberry's bargain 800gns Tattersalls February purchase needs to improve to feature but trainer Marco Botti is hopeful he can. “It's a very good race and he needs to raise his game taking on the older horses. The ground I hope will dry out a little bit and he would not want it any softer than good,” he explained. “We are happy with him, but these are proper older horses he is taking on. It is a good draw he has in four and he has done nothing wrong this year and he has definitely improved. He has got 10 pounds to find with Arecibo, but he is relatively fresh and others have been to Royal Ascot so, hopefully, that can play into his hands.”

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