It’s a big weekend for the stable with BARNEY ROY flying the flag for us in the Eclipse and while we don’t have too many other runners, I think they all have good chances so we’re hopeful of a successful Saturday!
The horses have continued in good form throughout the season so far and I was pleased to see BILLY DYLAN get his head back in front at Chester last week after his good effort at Royal Ascot the time before. He’s in a lot of those valuable Sales races and he’s an ideal type of horse for contests like that so we’ll have a look and come up with a plan. DE BRUYNE HORSE ran very well in the Railway Stakes at the Curragh and we may have a look at the Super Sprint at Newbury on July 22nd next where he may have to shoulder top weight but it’s a very valuable prize so worth having a go, although there are still lots of other options with him too.
I quite fancied MODEL before her first run at Doncaster on Saturday and I hope you heeded my advice in last week’s Stan James column as she duly obliged, albeit by only a head, but that was just greenness and there is plenty of improvement to come from her. She’s a lovely filly with a bright future and she might be worth stepping up in grade next. SALLAB stayed on very well to score at Epsom on Thursday and he clearly stripped fitter for his debut at Sandown and could be very exciting when we step him up in trip.
Turning our attentions to our runners this Saturday and my thoughts on their chances are below:
BARNEY TO ECLIPSE MOHER
3:35 ECLIPSE STAKES - BARNEY ROY (James Doyle)
There isn’t really much more I can say about BARNEY except for the fact that he is absolutely flying and came out of Ascot so well that we had to give him a canter two days after. Everything has gone well in the lead up to this race and I’m just looking forward to getting him out again and seeing how he fares over the longer trip. Lots of people have been asking various questions about him over the past few weeks so here are the answers to some of them:
Who does he work with and over how far? He does a lot of his fast work with SON OF THE STARS because he’s one of only a couple of horses that can keep up with his gallop. Usually he will work on our 7 furlong All Weather gallop and gradually increase the pace for the final three as it’s quite a stiff uphill finish. Obviously he’ll work over a little further when we take him away.
How much improvement, mentally and physically, has he made since the 2000 Guineas? He’s was still quite green in the Greenham but I’d say it was his class that got him through and his inexperience caught him out in the Guineas after that, but he was much, much better at Ascot and is clearly getting the hang of things with each run. Physically, he’s growing all the time, like most horses at his age. He’s a very relaxed horse and nothing fazes him which makes my job much easier!
What was the deciding factor in going for the Eclipse (1m2f) rather than the Prix Jean Prat (1m)?
It was a tricky decision to make and there were lots of discussions between us and everyone at Godolphin but this seemed the next logical step if we want to go up in distance. Despite winning by (just) a length, he was pulling away nicely from Lancaster Bomber, who set a lovely gallop up front, in the St James’s Palace so it was obvious that this trip is worth a try. The better ground at Sandown was also a big factor as it’s pretty soft already at Chantilly and I wouldn’t want him getting bogged down in that. Hopefully it is the right decision as you never know until you try.
What are his best assets in a race? He’s got a very high cruising speed and a good turn of foot, as he showed at Ascot. There’s nothing not to like about him, he just does everything you ask.
How will he be ridden in the Eclipse? There are a few horses stepping down in trip, including CLIFFS OF MOHER and EMINENT, so there should be plenty of pace and with the ground on the quick side I’ll be surprised if they dawdle. He took quite a keen hold at Ascot last time so I’ll be hoping to sit mid field and get a nice lead into the race before James asks the question turning for home. Races are never written in stone and quite often jockeys’ have to scrap plan A, B and C but as long as his nose is in front on the line, I don’t care how he gets there!
1:20 ALMOREB (Jim Crowley)
He’s a lovely, big, strong colt who I have a lot of time for and one with an engine. I think the step back down to 7 furlongs will really suit and he’s quite pacey and the good ground should see him in a really good light. We are yet to reach the ceiling with him as there is plenty more to come and I really rate his chances here, I really do.
2:25 GEORGE WILLIAM (Sean Levey)
Things just didn’t go right for him at all in the Royal Hunt Cup last time when he was never in with a chance at all so you can draw a line through that. He’s very reliable and a real favourite in the yard but because of his consistency he’s very much in the Handicappers grip. He will love the ground though and has been in great form at home so I see no reason why he can’t finish in the money.
3:00 TAI HANG DRAGON (Sean Levey)
This is a big step up in grade and we’re going a furlong further too but that will not be a problem as she stayed on very well at Lingfield last week. Obviously she only ran seven days ago so she’s had a very easy week enjoying the sunshine in the outdoor pens. We won this race last year with LIGHT UP OUR WORLD who probably had slightly better for than this filly coming into this race but she was nevertheless a big price, so let’s hope this horse can follow suit!
1:25 FABRIC (Tom Marquand)
She loves fast ground and that is the key to her. The Handicapper has given her a chance and I was quite impressed with a piece of work she did on Wednesday, so much so that we decided to declare her here. While I can’t be over confident and say she’ll definitely win, there are plenty of things in her favour here and she boasts very solid each way claims.
2:30 FLYING NORTH (Timmy Murphy)
This is a filly I’ve always liked and I was really pleased to see her make all to win at Windsor last time as that would have done her confidence no end of good. She’s 4lbs higher here but on this ground she might be a little better than that and Timmy Murphy gets on very well with her. She will not be far away, I’m sure of that.