Daryl Carter previews Sunday's star-studded Group 1 at Sandown as Enable and Ghaiyyath go head-to-head.
This year’s outstanding renewal of the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown rates one of the most exciting races of the season.
The market is headed by last year’s winner ENABLE (Best price 11-10) who makes her seasonal return and she is a good starting point to assess this race. A winner of 13 of her 15 career starts culminating in over ten million pounds of prize money she has been the poster girl for flat racing in recent times. She was last seen finishing second in the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp when caught late by the now-retired Waldgeist in a thrilling finish. She was unbeaten in 12 starts before meeting Waldgeist on soft ground in France and her form has been boosted on multiple occasions throughout her career. It's very difficult to find faults with Enable given she won this race last year on seasonal return beating the outstanding mare Magical by ¾ of a length, and having one of today’s rivals in behind. However, last year’s runner-up Magical was the highest-rated runner in the field outside of Enable with an official rating of 123 and this year’s contest could feature horses rated higher. Connections have decided to keep her in training to amend that defeat in France and attempt to make history by winning a third Arc de Triomphe and the case could be made that she has bigger targets down the line. She sat prominently in this race last year behind Hunting Horn who gave her a lead inside the final furlong but this race has a different shape to it with the presence of a runaway leader from the Charlie Appleby yard, and that could cause an issue for her. While she is a superstar and must be given the utmost respect, it’s hard to envisage her improving on the back of what she has achieved this season and a run to her peak best will be required first time up should her market rivals be on-song.
This race likely revolves around what GHAIYYATH (Best price 9-4) will show up, and at his brilliant best he rates a worthy rival for Enable. A winner of 7 of his 10 starts including three over this trip has seen him be majestically outstanding at times but also desperately disappointing in others. The race will likely be dictated by his strong front-running style which has seen so many rivals put to the sword. He was well behind Enable in France when they met but it’s likely the soft ground would not have suited him and it would be harsh to judge him on his performance there. On his two starts this campaign he was an impressive winner of a Group 3 contest in Dubai, easily running away with the contest by 8 lengths. He returned to Britain for the first time since 2017 with an excellent Group 1 victory at Newmarket and although that form will need to be improved on, his racing style suggests that this drop back to 1m2f will play to his strengths. Connections have commented, suggesting that this is the best condition they have had him in and that he is now “the finished article” which gives confidence that there could be more to come from him. When examining his form figures his best performances have come on a sounder surface and any rain falling would be a concern to his chances but everything looks in place for a big run.
JAPAN (Best price 9-2) heads the Aidan O’Brien team and they will attempt another crack at Enable after failing with Magical in this race last year. A winner of 5 of his 10 starts including the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes over this trip last season when having one of today’s rivals in behind he is entitled to take a big step forward from his return disappointment. Last year connections of Japan voiced their concerns about his first run after a break and they did the same this year explaining that he will "come on for the run" and be seen to better effect once race-fit. He should be spot on for this race today after blowing away the cobwebs at Royal Ascot but the suspicion is that he is better over 1m ½ rather than 1m ¼ and his form would suggest that is the case. I can hear people shouting about the form of his Juddmonte win last term, but he was in receipt of the three-year-old allowance of 7lbs from Crystal Ocean that day and will need to improve upon that effort to land this race given the form lines through Enable. He looks a fair price however for an each-way bet into nothing given the likely pace and things could fall into his lap.
Of the rest, globe-trotting MAGIC WAND (Best Price 18-1) has plenty to find on the figures and could be in here to upset the front runner from the Godolphin team in the early stages forcing a strong pace for stablemate Japan. She has been an outstanding horse but looks out of her depth in this race. DEIRDRE (Best price 25-1) has plenty to find on her form lines through Magical to suggest she can topple Enable here and will likely be seen to better effect over 1m ½ going forward but this race will be run to suit her strong finishing style. She is likely to run with credit and could be staying on for a place at the death. Last years third REGAL REALITY (Best price 25-1) looks a little insulted by the market given he only has 2 lengths to find on the favourite over course and distance and is 7lbs better off with Japan for their Juddmonte meeting. He ran well at Ascot despite the ground not being in his favour finishing a strong third on reappearance and he is likely to take a step forward now race fit. He has run well here on three occasions and hasn’t had conditions to show his improvement since this race last term. He will need to find plenty on the figures to win but is no forlorn hope here for a place.
This race seems to revolve around GHAIYYATH and although a few are likely to ruffle his feathers in the early stages its unlikely they will be able to keep up with him. He takes a drop back in trip which looks a wise move and he has the potential to improve past Enable this term. The 9/4 looks a fair enough price about a horse who simply needs to give his running, while others will need him to falter and things to fall right, he looks the one to side with. I will be having two bets, the other is a very small each-way bet on REGAL REALITY to go alongside the above mentioned given the each-way value he offers at this stage.