Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 25 February 2018

Inside Track: Gosden duo can Eclipse rivals

Derby hero Horn can lead home course specialist Western Hymn

Trainer John Gosden with his Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn. Both are worth following
at Sandown today
Trainer John Gosden with his Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn. Both are worth following at Sandown today
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Golden Horn heads to Sandown in his quest to emulate Sea The Stars by becoming the 10th three-year-old to follow Derby glory by taking the Eclipse Stakes.

It is a feat that only three horses have managed in over 40 years, Mill Reef (1971) and Nashwan (1989) preceding John Oxx's sensational colt's victory in 2009. Golden Horn is also trying to succeed where Motivator (2005) and Authorized (2007) failed by winning the Dante, Derby and Eclipse in one season.

It was Oratorio that foiled Motivator, and there is a loose similarity between him and Aidan O'Brien's challenger today, Cougar Mountain. Both looked exposed prior to running well to be third in a Royal Ascot Group One over a mile, albeit in Oratorio's case it was held at York due to the Berkshire venue's revamp.

A blinkered Cougar Mountain may have it in his locker to cause a similar upset, especially when you consider that Ryan Moore clearly got a tune out of him behind Solow in the Queen Anne on what was his first time riding him.

Still, the son of Fastnet Rock was never really in the race at Ascot. Solow won well and he eventually grabbed third under duress, a neck behind the mare Esoterique. Moreover, Cougar Mountain isn't bred to excel over 10 furlongs, so it's hard to envisage him giving Golden Horn 11lbs.

On form, The Grey Gatsby is the danger. However, a tactical encounter would compromise his chance. Golden Horn is a really exciting prospect, so it will be deflating if he doesn't live up to his odds-on status. His form was franked spectacularly by Jack Hobbs and co in the Irish Derby, and it is interesting that John Gosden also runs Western Hymn.

Part-owned by his wife Rachel Hood and unbeaten in three starts at Sandown, there is a chance that Western Hymn will be tasked with ensuring a sensible pace. Crucially, he was far from disgraced when just tiring into third behind Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby at Ascot.

If he were to dictate proceedings here, he has it within his locker to finish second, but Golden Horn should win, regardless. As an 18/1 shot with the sponsors Coral, Western Hymn is an each-way bet to nothing to be second, with the Gosden forecast another option.

The Newmarket handler's string is in rare old form, and he could take the Coral Charge with Waady as well. It would be great to see Mecca's Angel run in this but the fast ground is likely to rule her out. If nothing else, her presence would keep Waady's odds inflated at around 3/1, which is cracking value.

Unbeaten in three starts at Sandown and in four starts over five furlongs, the Approve colt is a proper sprinter that devours the hill at the Esher course.

The Commonwealth Cup fourth Salt Island may be the one most likely to put it up to Waady, but Paul Hanagan's mount appeals as a bona fide Group One prospect, so he should win this.

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