'Twice' is nice for Eclipse
Cecil's charge looks too good for Nelson in sub-standard Sandown field
Viscount Nelson is the sole Irish-trained challenger in a sub-standard line-up for this afternoon's Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
Just six go to post for the prestigious Group One, with only two previous winners at this level set to face the starter.
In the circumstances, Viscount Nelson isn't without a chance. Third in first-time blinkers behind Canford Cliffs in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Giant's Causeway colt subsequently took fifth place in the French Derby. That is solid three-year-old form.
Furthermore, Aidan O'Brien's decision not to saddle another runner in the 10-furlong contest looks favourable. When successful in a similarly poor renewal in 2008, he ran only Mount Nelson, which defied Phoenix Tower, a Henry Cecil-trained favourite.
With Twice Over topping all the major bookmakers' lists, Cecil looks set to saddle the market leader again now. A classier and more robust type than Phoenix Tower, last year's Champion Stakes hero ran promisingly when a staying-on second in the Prince Of Wales' Stakes at Royal Ascot.
While the 7/1 about Viscount Nelson is tempting, on the balance of form, Twice Over ought to justify favouritism. If you discount a slightly below-par effort in Dubai in March, his Ascot outing was a fair start to the season, and his final runs last year suggested that there would be another Group One in him.
After bringing up a hat-trick in the Champion Stakes, Twice Over went on to finish a good third to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic. If Tom Queally's mount can repeat that kind of performance now, the general 2/1 available is a fair offering.
Prior to the big race, the Coral Challenge is the day's major betting heat. The 2009 winner Acrostic tops most bookies' lists, but hasn't really built on that success and is easily opposed off his current rating.
Worth a look at up to 10/1 is Oratory, which Johnny Murtagh partners for the in-form Richard Hannon. A lightly raced four-year-old, Oratory will appreciate Sandown's stiff mile, and comes here in good spirits.
At York in June, he ran with real credit to go down fighting after a ding-dong tussle with Distant Memories over nine furlongs. That was the second time in three runs this season that he has made the frame, having finished third at Newbury on his debut.
In between, he disappointed behind David Marnane's Dandy Boy in the Victoria Cup but he didn't get the run of the race that day and wasn't given a hard time of it when his chance was gone. Although Oratory has gone up a few pounds for his York effort, he doesn't look badly in off 9st, and will be thereabouts from a helpful inside draw.
In the opening Group Three over five furlongs, Triple Aspect bids to atone for his poor showing in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot. While generally progressive prior to that, he is passed over on the basis that he hasn't run over the minimum trip since September.
Bould Mover may be better equipped for today's challenge. Twice a winner over five this time last year, Bould Mover went on to acquit himself well in four Group races.
A son of the speedy Kyllachy, he then stepped up to Group One company on his seasonal reappearance in the King's Stand at Ascot, catching the eye with a smart fifth behind Equiano. Coming from a stable that has yet to train a Flat winner, he may be overpriced at 3/1.
Up at Haydock, Dermot Weld's in-foal Grace O'Malley tackles the Lancashire Oaks. A tidy winner at Cork last time, at 7/1 she is value to follow up. Also, Red Cadeaux, which was unlucky in running in the Chester Cup, has live prospects at a big price in the Old Newton Cup.
Best bet: Twice Over