Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Brien declares War on Al Kazeem with twin-pronged attack on Eclipse

Trainer Aidan O'Brien will make a twin-pronged attack
Trainer Aidan O'Brien will make a twin-pronged attack
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Undeterred by Camelot's inability to cope with Al Kazeem twice in the space of a month, Aidan O'Brien will rely on Declaration Of War and Mars in an attempt to thwart Roger Charlton's improved five-year-old in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

Camelot was understood to be Ballydoyle's chief contender for the 10-furlong Group One, but doubts about his future emerged last weekend. O'Brien revealed he was instead considering stepping Declaration Of War up in trip tomorrow after his superlative success in the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot, and duly declared him to take part under his son Joseph.

While the Eclipse was considered a natural target for St James's Palace Stakes third Mars – which will be ridden by Ryan Moore – such was the blistering turn of foot which Declaration Of War displayed at Ascot that O'Brien mooted aiming him at one of the top sprints. Indeed, the son of War Front is still in the Nunthorpe over five furlongs at York next month.

However, Declaration Of War – twice a winner over tomorrow's trip in lesser company last term – is now as low as 3/1 second favourite for the Eclipse, having been available at 20/1 earlier in the week. Al Kazeem heads the market at 15/8, with John Gosden's The Fugue next best at 9/2 for what promises to be an intriguing affair. Mukhadram, a runner-up to Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Ascot, is also among the final field of seven.

Across the water yesterday, Gordon Elliott continued where he left off with Wednesday's treble at Perth when the AP McCoy-ridden Crookstown clung on to justify 2/1 favouritism in the maiden hurdle.

Elliott's Definite Row (11/8 favourite) was one of seven other raiders to place at Perth, but he was ultimately denied by Mike McCann and Robbie Colgan. Representing shrewd Co Louth handler Michael O'Hare, the Helissio debutant Mike McCann didn't go unbacked, returning an SP of 9/2 after digging deep to repel McCoy's mount.

Meanwhile, Elliott's regular rider Paul Carberry faces another three months off after learning that a shoulder injury that has kept him sidelined since the end of April requires surgery. Carberry had hoped to be back in time for this weekend's Bellewstown Festival, but will undergo surgery to have torn muscles stitched back on to a bone.

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