Wednesday 17 January 2018

Step up in trip to shade Eclipse for Verrazano

Verrazano - a winter recruit from America - can reward backers in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Verrazano - a winter recruit from America - can reward backers in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Kingston Hill and Night Of Thunder are poised to give us a far better idea of just how good this season's lauded three-year-old crop is when they tackle their elders in today's Coral Eclipse Stakes.

War Command, True Story and Somewhat complete the Classic contingent, but, in blunt terms, on what we have seen so far Kingston Hill and Night Of Thunder are the second best of their generation over 12 furlongs and a mile, respectively.

Kingston Hill, a Group One winner as a juvenile, served it up to Australia in the Derby, while Night Of Thunder was a slightly fortunate 2,000 Guineas winner before Kingman duly set the record straight in sensational style at Ascot.

They will have their mettle tested this afternoon over the intermediate 10-furlong trip.

Such have been the three-year-olds' prolific exploits to date, you couldn't write off at least one of the quintet exploiting their weight advantage, with Kingston Hill possibly most likely to do so, if he runs.

Fast ground is again a concern for Roger Varian's colt and he may be more of a mile-and-a-half horse, but the manner in which he drew clear with Australia at Epsom was impressive.

If he lines out under Frankie Dettori, he would be expected to at least outshine Night Of Thunder, which may not be suited by the trip going by pedigree and his stable's poor record in Group Ones beyond a mile.

On the back of her decisive triumph over Magician and Treve at Ascot, The Fugue is a worthy favourite.

She is a top-class mare and has her optimum conditions as she goes for her fifth Group One, so she is undoubtedly the one to beat.

The chief concern for John Gosden's mare is that, for all her consistency, she has only ever strung two wins together once in her 16-race career since 2011.


She might prove vulnerable again here, and two of the raiders appeal as representing value against her. The Jim Bolger-trained 2013 Irish Derby hero Trading Leather is vastly overpriced at 20/1.

Following his Curragh exploits last year, he was placed in three premier all-aged Group Ones behind Novellist, Declaration Of War and The Fugue, hinting at his true potential for 2014.

Unfortunately, on his return at Newmarket in May, Kevin Manning couldn't get him settled in the Jockey Club Stakes, with the 12-furlong trip ultimately exacerbating the manner of his defeat. However, Trading Leather drops back in distance now, and he must represent each-way value if Manning can settle him.

Verrazano, though, is the best win option at generous odds of around 6/1 now that he has acclimatised for the back-to-form Ballydoyle team.

A winter recruit from America – where he won two Grade One races over nine furlongs on dirt – the four-year-old will be racing around a bend on turf for a first time here, which shouldn't be of any major consequence.

In two starts since arriving at Ballydoyle, he followed an encouraging Lockinge third to Olympic Glory with a determined effort to be second to Toronado in the Queen Anne, when Anodin, which was second to Cirrus Des Aigles in the d'Ispahan previously, was back in third.

That was a cracking effort given that he was off the bridle from three furlongs out, so this step up in trip will be right up his street.

In the longer term, Verrazano could have a tilt at an elusive Breeders' Cup Classic for Aidan O'Brien, and he can confirm that potential under Ryan Moore now.

In the Listed two-miler that follows, Earth Amber is worth a look for Nicky Henderson and Kieren Fallon.

Charles Byrnes' Ascot winner Domination is a contender, but Earth Amber had Missunited behind when second to Tac De Boistron at Ascot in April.

The winner has since been second in a Group Two and the overall form is solid, so Earth Amber can exploit her 5lb allowance.

Brazos is the selection in the featured handicap over a mile. Clive Brittain's three-year-old was a commendable sixth behind Mustajeeb in the Jersey Stakes, form franked by Giovanni Boldini in Listed company since.

He is 10lbs higher than when winning at Ascot in May, but has the scope to defy that at double-figure odds here as he steps up to a mile for a first time under James Doyle.

Best Bet: Verrazano


Do the double

There is plenty of international fare of interest this weekend and two of Aidan O'Brien's travelling contingent appeal as being worth a venture.

Geoffrey Chaucer tackles tomorrow's German Derby in Hamburg. He was scratched from the Curragh last week and everything went wrong at Epsom, but he is better than that.

Having been supplemented for what is a third-rate Group One, he is not too skinny at 9/2 under the irrepressible Ryan Moore.

Adelaide is also of interest at similar odds in tonight's Belmont Derby.

Toast Of New York heads the market, but the ground is likely to ride on the easy side and that may not suit him at all.

The lightly-raced Adelaide, though, is a dual winner on soft ground, and he was a fine second to the well-regarded Eagle Top in the King Edward VII at Ascot.

With Colm O'Donoghue, who has already plundered three Grade Ones for O'Brien in America and Canada, steering, he is expected to have a big say.

Irish Independent

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