Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Eagle looks set for Top billing

Gosden's charge and Dettori can upstage Stoute trio in Hardwicke

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Hillstar and Snow Sky as well as Telescope
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Hillstar and Snow Sky as well as Telescope
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A year after trouncing his Hardwicke Stakes rivals, Telescope faces six pretty serious horses in his bid to retain the Group Two.

The 12-furlong Royal Ascot event lacks an Irish runner, while Michael Stoute will saddle Hillstar and Snow Sky as well as Telescope.

Hillstar triumphed in the Group One Canadian International when last seen in October, and David Simcock's Sheikhzayedroad was also successful in a Woodbine Group One in the autumn. Ed Dunlop's triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux is the other to have won at the top level in the 2012 Hong Kong Vase. Hillstar has never won first time up so this may stretch him, while Yorkshire Cup victor Snow Sky needs further.

The nine-year-old Red Cadeaux and Sheikhzayedroad shouldn't be good enough, though Luca Cumani's Postponed is interesting. He beat Snow Sky in the Great Voltigeur last August and got to within a length of Western Hymn - third in Wednesday's Prince of Wales's Stakes - on his Sandown return.

A son of Dubawi, he was denied only half a length by Al Kazeem in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, form that was franked when The Grey Gatsby went so close on Wednesday. Postponed is a contender, though he might not get the run of the race out in front like he did at the Curragh. The top-rated Telescope sets a fair standard.

Second to Taghrooda in the King George after his 2014 royal win, he was also third to Australia in the Juddmonte International. However, he has never been the most reliable, for all that he won as he well as odds of 8/13 suggested he should in Listed class at Newbury. Under the inspired Ryan Moore, he might prove unstoppable, but there is a more appealing option for a firm enjoying a similarly insatiable run. Eagle Top represents John Gosden and Frankie Dettori and he has the scope to really excel.

A year ago, he obliged for a second time in three starts when soaring home in the King Edward VII Stakes, when Snow Sky was six lengths back in fourth. On his only other start as a three-year-old in the King George, he was dropped too far out, before keeping on to be closest at the finish in fourth, less than two lengths behind Telescope. He wouldn't have won had he been ridden closer but he was asked to do too much, so it was interesting to see Dettori ride him bang on the pace when he reappeared at Sandown in May. On that occasion, Eagle Top tired to be beaten a couple of lengths by Western Hymn over 10 furlongs, but he ran well.

While he clearly has to step up on that, he is unexposed enough to do so on just his sixth start, with the return to this trip a significant plus. He is rated just a pound inferior to Telescope on 119 and, at odds of 7/2, is value to progress beyond him.

Last year's Jersey Stakes hero Mustajeeb can also build on his switch to the sprint discipline under Pat Smullen in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Dermot Weld's colt has an abundance of class and looked comfortable at this six-furlong trip at the Curragh last month.

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