Barney Roy set to Eclipse older brigade
Foaled in 1764, Eclipse is one of the most famous horses of all time and went through his career unbeaten winning 18 races.
His influence on the sport as a sire is striking and around 95pc of thoroughbred racehorses are descended from Eclipse, which became a superstar in his day.
While some of the race reports of the time may be inaccurate or exaggerated, there's no doubt he was freakishly talented and is said to have retired as it was almost impossible to find any horses good enough to give him a decent race.
He died from a colic attack at the age of 24 and while his skeleton is on display at the Royal Veterinary College in London, there are question marks about how much of it is genuine as there have been all sorts of Eclipse memorabilia, including bones, for sale down through the years.
Inkstands Famously, his hooves were made into inkstands and it's quite amusing to note that there's at least five of them going around, which proves that cashing in on a famous death is certainly not a new phenomenon.
The race named after the great horse (3.35 Sandown) traditionally allows the Classic generation to take on the older horses, and the youngsters have had the upper hand in the last two years with three-year-olds Hawkbill and Golden Horn.
Although that came straight after five-year-olds Mukhadram and Al Kazeem flew the flag for the older horses in the previous two renewals, so it's been a mixed bag.
This year, Aidan O'Brien's Cliffs Of Moher looks set to go off as favourite around 2/1, and having won the Dee Stakes over a mile and a quarter and finished runner-up in the Derby over a mile and a half, the Coral-Eclipse mile and a quarter distance is ideal.
The Derby form looks reasonably solid at this stage with a number of subsequent winners emerging from that race, but all that's built into the price and I don't think there's much value left for favourite backers.
Martyn Meade's Eminent is also likely to feature strongly. Having finished mid-division in the Guineas, his fourth place in the Derby was no disgrace considering the big step up in trip on just his fourth start.
The Derby can be tough, but he'll have learned plenty and looks like a middle-distance horse.
The one Meade fears most is Barney Roy and at 3/1 yesterday evening, Richard Hannon's colt is my idea of a solid bet.
A three-time winner in a four-race career, he met trouble in the Guineas and deserves praise for coming second to Churchill. He later managed to beat that rival in the St James's Palace Stakes in a race where the pace was a lot more even.
The big question, of course, is whether he will step up in trip - but it looks well within his range and Hannon said his work on Tuesday was highly pleasing with the horse being in good shape and nicely relaxed.
So it looks like the younger horses will dominate this time around, although four-year-old Ulysses is also worth a mention.
Michael Stoute's colt is yet to win a Group One but has improved a bit this season and hit 8/13 in-running in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot before finishing a good third to the classy Highland Reel and Decorated Knight, the latter re-opposing today.
Earlier on the same card, Alpha Delphini makes appeal around 13/2 in the Group Three Coral Charge (1.50) although he'd probably be a lot shorter had he not received a poor draw.
The Bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap (3.15 Haydock) has attracted a decent field and it's hard to rule out anything with confidence bar a few outsiders.
Shraaoh is the warmest in the market at the time of writing but preference is for Brorocco, which is expected to go off at an each-way price around 8/1.
Down near the bottom of the weights with a mark of 90, Andrew Balding's four-year-old was fifth off that mark in a 14-runner handicap at Epsom last time out, but he performed better than the bare result in a messy race.
The handicapper hasn't been too harsh lately and I suspect he'll appreciate the step up in trip. If jockey David Probert can keep him out of trouble, he's sure to go close.
1.50 Sandown: Alpha Delphini
2.40 Haydock: Abingdon
3.0 Sandown: Paco's Angel
3.15 Haydock: Brorocco (e/w)
3.35 Sandown: Barney Roy
4.10 Sandown: Nearly Caught