Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 16 December 2017

Jellicle Ball to give Gosden a good day regardless of Eclipse

Trainer John Gosden
Trainer John Gosden

Wayne Bailey

Oscar Wilde once said that to do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, but having spent days mulling over the Coral Eclipse (3.45 Sandown), I'm going to do just that and sit this one out without having a bet.

I hate to shy away from the big races but there are times when it makes sense just to keep your money in your back pocket.

The Eclipse is often billed as the race which gives the older horses the chance to take on the current year's Classic generation although this year, Derby winner Golden Horn (4/11) happens to be the only three-year-old in the field.

If he wins, and his odds of odds suggest he's got a 74pc chance of doing so, he'll become the first Classic winner since Sea The Stars (2009) to take home the substantial prize. Although the 119-rated Mukhadram was a surprise winner last year at 14/1, most recent winners of this race have been rated in the 120s so if we are to narrow down the field on ratings, the two to concentrate on are Golden Horn and The Grey Gatsby.

It certainly wouldn't have taken a genius to work that one out - although trying to decide if The Grey Gatsby (7/2) is over-priced is a little trickier.

On paper, there's no reason to oppose the favourite: he's unbeaten, he's won a Classic and his form was franked emphatically when his stablemate Jack Hobbs, which finished behind him at Epsom, won the Irish Derby in fine style.

But with just 3lbs splitting the pair on official ratings, this is not a one-horse race as John Gosden admitted on Thursday. As Gosden said himself, the threat from a multiple Group One winner must always be taken seriously and he described Golden Horn's price as "ridiculous".

The Grey Gatsby may have gone three races without a win but his latest performance in the Prince of Wales' Stakes at Royal Ascot was striking. With a bit more luck in running, he possibly would have beaten Free Eagle.

Being a three-year-old, Golden Horn will carry 8st 10lbs with the rest of the field carrying 9st 7lb which is surely in the jolly's favour although they do get an age allowance for good reason so it's not quite a case of him, if you'll excuse the pun, getting away lightly.

If I'm starting to sound conflicted, that's because I am - so I'm going sit this one out and enjoy the race without a bet.

One John Gosden horse which does make appeal from a betting point of view is Jellicle Ball (3/1), which runs a little earlier in the Listed Fillies' Coral Distaff (3.10).

The Invincible Spirit filly really appreciated the drop back in trip to a mile at Royal Ascot last time and ran a cracker to come fourth under a big enough handicap weight.

She first caught my eye when she was narrowly beaten into second in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury, a race she could have won had she been a little more alert early on.

She clearly wasn't right when she flopped badly in the 1,000 Guineas and it later transpired that she was heavily in season.


Gabrial's King has come on well since switching from David Simcock's yard to Richard Fahey, and a mark of 93 would seem about right given that he finished mid-division off 1lb higher in a very useful handicap at Haydock back in May. More recently, he gave a good account of himself in a decent renewal of the Northumberland Plate, and you could do worse things this weekend than back him at 16/1 each-way in the Old Newton Cup (2.50) at Haydock.

(Last week's each-way selection, Blithe Spirit, won at 9/2).

Today's selections

2.0 Sandown: Mecca's Angel

2.15 Haydock: Miss Marjurie

2.50 Haydock: Gabrial's King (e/w)

3.10 Sandown: Jellicle Ball

4.20 Sandown: Havana Beat

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