Coral-Eclipse Tips: Japan looks the value play

Aidan O'Brien last won this race back in 2011 with So You Think.
Aidan O'Brien last won this race back in 2011 with So You Think.

Nick Seddon previews Sunday's Coral-Eclipse Stakes, as Enable bids to win the race for a second year running... 

It seemed certain that Enable's last hurrah was to be in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and if you trusted the betting markets, she was all but destined to create history by winning Europe's most prestigious race for a third time. However, Andre Fabre and Waldgeist seemingly didn't read the script, prompting plans to be rather hastily reconsidered. 

It's clear that Khalid Abdullah craves that particular piece of history for his superstar, and this certainly feels like an unprecedented decision for a mare who will be set for a glittering career at stud once retired from the racecourse. It was of course a welcome one from all camps in the racing world, but it means we now begin to enter unchartered territory with Enable, and it will be no mean feat for her to be able to continue her sparkling form as a six-year-old. Indeed, you have to go all the way back to the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes to find the last six-year-old mare to win a British Group 1 contest, in the form of the Australian superstar Black Caviar, and Sunday's Eclipse Stakes will by no means be a stroll to sucess.

At the height of her powers, Enable would be very difficult to oppose in this, and she would be difficult to stop if replicating her effort to gamely see off the attentions of Magical in this race 12 months ago. However, all roads clearly lead to Longchamp for the mare this term, and John Gosden has warned that she will almost certainly need this outing to get her up to full fitness. There is no doubting that Enable has been a fine servant, but she will almost certainly have to take her career to new heights to improve her sparkling tally of 10 top level successes this term, and she simply offers no value at even money to do so here. 

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The opposition is headed by Ghaiyyath, who was a deeply impressive winner of the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Newmarket last month, form which has since been boosted by the third-placed Stradivarius' scintillating victory in last month's Ascot Gold Cup.

That victory was his first at the top level on these shores, but he has long hinted at having plenty of ability, romping to a 14-length success in a Group 1 contest at Baden-Baden last season. He will be able to dictate things from the front as the sole pacemaker in the field, and although he would be particularly dangerous if allowed to dominate, there's a lingering feeling that he could be vulnerable to a closer over this trip. 

Two more to consider are the Group 1-winning mares Magic Wand and Deirdre, who are both available at double-figure prices at the time of writing. The first-named is about as durable a mare as you will find, and was successful in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes over this trip down in Australia last November. She was a comfortable winner on reappearance in a Group 2 event over a mile at the Curragh last month, and while she will likely run her race, she has something to find for win purposes. Similar comments apply to the Japanese-trained mare Deirdre, who produced a career-best effort to win the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last August, but has been held in three runs at the top level since. 

Meanwhile, two who are available at much bigger prices are Regal Reality and Bangkok. The latter is a smart performer at his peak, winning the listed Winter Derby Trial in really good style at Lingfield in February, and although he held his own perfectly well when fifth in last month's Prince of Wales's Stakes, place money is the best he can hope for here - comments which also apply to Regal Reality, who will need to take a sizeable step forward from his effort to finish third in last month's listed Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot to have a serious say.

At the prices, though, it is Japan who makes the most appeal as a betting proposition. He was particularly progressive during his three-year-old campaign, building on a fine effort to finish third in the Epsom Derby to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, before sealing back-to-back Group 1 successes in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp and the International Stakes at York. He signed off with an excellent effort to finish fourth in the Arc that October, beaten just two and a quarter lengths by Enable, and stayed on all the way to the line that day.

There's reasons to think that he will be even better as a four-year-old this season, and although he was admittedly disappointing when just fourth in last month's Prince of Wales's Stakes behind Lord North, there were conceivable excuses for that outing, with his trainer revealing that he rather anticipated the start in the stalls that day, losing ground as a consequence. O'Brien did express his satisfaction at that run, however, and a strong pace set by Ghaiyyath will certainly play into his hands in the closing stages here. He ought to strip fitter with that Ascot outing now under his belt, and looks the value play at around 4/1 to spoil Enable's party. 


Eclipse Stakes, Sunday 5th July - back Japan at 4/1


Japan silk


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