Friday 9 December 2016

Hawksbill joins Eclipse field as Time Test gets pacemaker

Thomas Kelly

Published 28/06/2016 | 02:30

Ferguson: “Charlie is very happy with how Hawkbill has been training since Ascot. He’s taking a step up, but we feel he deserves to take his chance.” Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Ferguson: “Charlie is very happy with how Hawkbill has been training since Ascot. He’s taking a step up, but we feel he deserves to take his chance.” Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Two supplementary entries have been received for the Coral-Eclipse to leave a potential field of 11 at Sandown on Saturday.

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Godolphin announced yesterday that Royal Ascot winner Hawkbill was to be added to the field, while Roger Charlton also put in Countermeasure.

The latter's presence is to ensure a strong pace for his stablemate Time Test, one-time ante-post favourite for the race and set to run as long as conditions are suitable.

Aidan O'Brien is strongly represented. Dante Stakes runner-up Deauville skipped the Irish Derby in favour of this, but the Ballydoyle trainer has stated he would not be at home on soft ground.

French 2,000 Guineas winner The Gurkha, viewed by some as an unlucky loser in the St James's Palace Stakes, could step up in trip to 10 furlongs for the first time and has emerged as O'Brien's No 1 contender, taking over at the head of the markets.

Cougar Mountain, Bravery and Long Island Sound are the other Ballydoyle possibles.

My Dream Boat, gutsy winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes for Clive Cox, will bid to add another Group One to his haul. Charlie Appleby's Hawkbill will head to the Esher venue on the crest of a wave having won each of his last five starts.

The most recent of those wins came in the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot - won last year by Time Test - and connections feel he is ready to step up to the highest level.

Godolphin's racing manager John Ferguson (left) said: "Charlie is very happy with how Hawkbill has been training since Ascot. He's taking a step up, but we feel he deserves to take his chance."

Godolphin last won the Eclipse in 2004 with Refuse To Bend.

Completing the list is John Gosden's Sandown regular Western Hymn.

While the ground is drying out clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is expecting a wet spell midweek.

"We escaped a bit at the weekend," said Cooper. "It's a brighter day today with a breeze and I'd say there's more good to soft than soft, but the sprint course is slower and would still be soft.

"We're due to stay dry until mid-Tuesday afternoon and then for the next 48 hours we are forecast at least two, possibly three bands of rain where we could get between 10-20mm.

"It is then due to dry up Friday into Saturday but by then we could be back to predominantly soft ground."

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