The flat season is moving along nicely at present and the first of the mid-summer British racing highlights takes place at Sandown this Saturday. The event is of course the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes over 10 furlongs and it should pay to row in behind Phoenix Tower.
This Henry Cecil-trained four-year-old is a true Group 1 performer as evidenced by his excellent second-placed effort behind Aidan O’Brien’s star charge Duke Of Marmalade in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18th. Whilst Phoenix Tower was ultimately beaten all of four lengths on that occasion, he’s still recommended to return to the coveted number one slot a little after 3.20 on Saturday afternoon.
Cecil meanwhile has experienced a massive resurgence in fortunes in recent times and it’s worth recalling that he has won three previous renewals of the ‘Eclipse’. The Warren Place handler sent out Wolver Hollow to win in 1969, Wollow landed the 1976 running whilst he was also successful with Gunner B in 1978.
John Gosden’s Pipedreamer finished just a further short head behind Phoenix Tower in the Prince Of Wales’s and whilst he will undoubtedly run another fine race, he can’t be expected to turn the tables.
Mount Nelson, one of Aidan O’Brien’s best juveniles two years ago, showed a return to something like his best form by finishing fifth to stable companion Haradasun when largely unfancied in the Queen Anne Stakes over mile on the opening afternoon of Royal Ascot.
Mount Nelson indeed didn’t encounter the best of passages on that occasion and he will surely have derived immense benefit from the outing. In all probability, he’s the one most likely to chase home Phoenix Tower whilst the placings are likely to be completed by Cecil’s other representative Multdimensional, likewise another Royal Ascot runner-up.
Most of Britain’s top sprinters will be in action in the Group 3 Champagne Lanson Sprint Stakes over five furlongs. ‘Dandy’ Nicholls’ Tax Free is in tremendous fettle at present as evidenced by his stellar victory over Benbaun in last Sunday’s Group 3 William Fry Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh. Whilst Benbaun could be in opposition once again, he’s unlikely to get the better of the 12-time winner Tax Free.
Fifteen Love appears quite well treated in the toteswinger Stakes and with the Wimbleton tennis tournament fast approaching its climax, there wouldn’t be a more appropriate winner of this one-mile contest than Roger Charlton’s charge. Illusion and Melodramatic will both have their supporters in the Agfa Healthcare Stakes with narrow preference being for the former, an inmate of John Gosden’s powerful Newmarket stable.
The Channel 4 cameras will additionally be screening three races live from Haydock with the Group 2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks occupying centre stage. Folk Singer has won her two most recent starts for Saeed Bin Suroor and the four-year-old, who will be partnered by Australian ace Kerrin McEvoy, is put forward to beat Turbo Linn in this coveted one and a half mile race.
Mark Johnston can atone for drawing a blank at Royal Ascot by sending out Detonator to triumph from North Parade in the bet365 Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap and Alfie Flits is marginally preferred to Mad Rush in the bet365 Newton Cup.
Meanwhile, the three-day Bellewstown festival concludes on Saturday evening whilst enthusiasts can choose between Gowran Park and Limerick on Sunday.
At Bellewstown, the Mick Murphy-trained Tetouan stands out in the Champion Lettings Novice Hurdle. On his most recent outing, the British-bred justified major market support when beating Our Refusal by a comprehensive three lengths in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Cork on June 8th. Tetouan, then rated 97, seems a genuinely improving type and he should continue on his upward trajectory here by getting the better of Jewel Of The West.
Dream Champion, an inmate of Tony Martin’s all-conquering stable, is entitled to maximum respect in the Seamus Mulvaney Crockafotha Handicap Hurdle and Willie Mullins can continue his domination of the bumper division by saddling Luca Brasi to triumph from Plenty Of Chat in the Eastern Tarmacadam INH Flat Race.
At Gowran Park, Luminaire stands out in the Bennettsbridge Maiden. The Jim Bolger-trained Luminaire was well fancied for her initial outing in an extended seven furlongs maiden at Tipperary on June 8th. She went to the front a furlong and a half out only to be headed quite literally on the line by the David Wachman-trained Cat By The Tale and ultimately beaten by a short head. Luminaire should attain consolation here at the expense of Gunavira.
John Kiely’s admirable dual-purpose performer Migmatite can vindicate the promise of his excellent fourth-placed effort behind Lethal Weapon in a most competitive 10-furlong handicap at The Curragh on June 7th by showing a clean pair of heels to Malande in the Kilkenny Handicap and Drunken Sailor can complete a quick hat-trick for Co Longford handler Paul Flynn by excelling from Kiss N Run in the Freshford Handicap.
Limerick meanwhile stage an all jumps card and Rosaker looks the part in the Bulmers Summer Sundays Novice Chase. A former classy hurdler, the Noel Meade-trained Rosaker made an excellent start to his steeplechase career at Kilbeggan last month by winning a three mile one furlong beginners chase. It’s safe to say that Rosaker still retains his natural class and the 11-year-old is put forward to continue on his merry way here at the expense of Field Commander.
Ronnie O’Leary’s Schelm can justify his 125 rating by dismissing Haka Dancer in the Bulmers Summer Sundays Novice Hurdle and Princess Nicole can continue trainer Michael Grassick’s excellent strike rate over jumps by eclipsing One Cool Day in the Coffey Construction Handicap Hurdle.