So You Think to Eclipse rivals
Excuses would ring somewhat hollow if So You Think were to suffer a second successive odds-on defeat in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown this afternoon.
Following the Australian import's submission to Rewilding at Royal Ascot, Aidan O'Brien took a leaf out of Jose Mourinho's book by skilfully deflecting attention away from his jockeys. In the circumstances, it was an understandable gesture.
Jan Vermeer, the stable's pacemaker, had hindered rather than helped So You Think's prospects. Under O'Brien's son Joseph, Jan Vermeer missed the break completely and then proceeded to unsettle the favourite as he raced past him into the lead.
When the pacesetter ran out of gas three furlongs out, Ryan Moore found himself in front on So You Think with little choice other than to commit. Frankie Dettori took full advantage by challenging late on Rewilding.
The whole thing was a bit of a shambles and it is significant now that, having had four of the eight entries for today's Group One during the week, O'Brien has opted to let So You Think take his chance under Seamie Heffernan in the absence of a pacemaker. How the race pans out could define So You Think's European venture.
Clearly a very talented horse, the five-year-old probably isn't quite the equine deity that he has been made out to be. Nonetheless, 10 furlongs on decent ground ought to suit him better than either Workforce or the returning Snow Fairy, so he is fancied to justify the sustained weight of money that has come for him all week.
Notwithstanding that Michael Stoute is likely to use Confront to set an honest gallop for Workforce, the five-runner contest could still develop into a tactical event.
In light of how laboured Workforce looked when winning over course and distance on his reappearance, that would surely only work in favour of the market leader.
Bart Cummings and Steve Arnold, So You Think's respective trainer and jockey in Australia, were at pains to point out after Ascot that the horse isn't short of gears. One way or another, today we should find out for sure.
The Esher venue's major betting heat is the Coral Challenge over a mile. A number of the 17-strong field line out here having shown form at Ascot, with the Royal Hunt Cup form sure to have a bearing on the market.
Sooraah, Pendragon, Start Right and Kyllachy Star all have some sort of claim after running well to varying degrees in the Hunt Cup, but it is another Ascot handicap, the Buckingham Palace, that might hold the key.
Decent Fella took fourth in that seven-furlong heat, keeping on all the way to the line when beaten just over a length.
A lightly raced sort, Liam Keniry's mount travelled sweetly throughout and just didn't have the turn of foot to go and win the race late on.
With that in mind, the step up to a mile here should suit Decent Fella, which can be backed at up to 10/1.
Earlier, Margot Did appeals in the opening five-furlong sprint. A Group Three that features many established regulars, this won't be easily won, but Michael Bell's filly has shown steady improvement so far this year.
Having scored on her first two starts as a juvenile, Margot Did went seven runs without a win, though she has never run a bad race.
On her two most recent outings, the first of which came over course and distance, she got back to winning ways, and the poundage that she receives from her most serious rivals gives her a squeak now.
In the 'marathon,' the Johnny Murtagh-ridden Flying Cross may be worth an investment.
The former Ballydoyle representative was third in the Irish St Leger last year, so today's two-miler is a step down in grade.
Best Bet: Flying Cross