HORSE RACING: With leading pundit Charlie McCann. This week the former Talksport tipster picks out potential winners at Sandown and Haydock, including the Coral Eclipse.
The Coral Eclipse Stakes is the highlight of the weekend racing and it has to be said that this year’s renewal looks moderate certainly in comparison to last year’s epic battle between three-year-olds Sea The Stars and Rip Van Winkle.
Viscount Nelson is the sole three-year-old in the half dozen due to post and will be bidding to give Aidan O’Brien his fifth winner in the Group 1 contest the flat season’s first major clash of the generations. The Irish raider has not won in his last six starts and despite running well behind the impressive Lope De Vega in the French Derby last time he will need to improve again for the first-time visor if he is to give the Master of Ballydoyle a nap hand.
Henry Cecil’s Twice Over was well beaten in the corresponding race last year but a repeat of his excellent second to Byword in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes last month will make him hard to beat. Last year’s Champion Stakes winner has little to fear from Mawatheeq on that Ascot run, but trainer Marcus Tregoning suggested his five-year-old had had an interrupted preparation for Ascot and an improved run is expected at Sandown.
The excellent mare Dar Re Mi has been given a rest since landing the valuable Sheema Classic in Dubai over 12f back in March. Despite being a Group 1 winner over 10f she wouldn’t wish the contest to turn into a sprint and with no guaranteed pace in the race it is possible that the race will become tactical. No filly or mare has taken the contest in recent years although it must be said few have tried.
Marginal preference is for Zacinto (3.10) trained by Sir Michael Stoute who has always hinted that he would improve for the step up to 10f. Lightning fast ground would be a worry, but he was back to his best in the Queen Anne over a mile last time and has the assistance of the Champion jockey.
Lady Darshann sixth in the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas looks like going off a warm favourite for the Coral Distaff but I am sweet on the chances of the unbeaten Decorative (3.40) who is raised considerably in class after a comfortable win in a Nottingham handicap last time. It is possible her lack of experience will count against, but few horses have impressed me as much this year and I am going to support her until she gets beat.
The lightly-raced Kakatosi (4.50) makes his handicap debut on what looks a realistic mark and looks to have a very good draw for one who made all over a mile last time. Kieren Fallon takes over dropping down a furlong and he must surely go close for Andrew Balding
The big betting race of the weekend is the Old Newton Cup at Haydock Park and Thursday’s rain will hopefully have taken the sting out of the ground for Hillview Boy who dotted up at Hamilton last time. Six-year-olds haven’t got a great record in the race but as long as there is no jar in the ground he must run well from what looks a favourable draw in stall two.
Berling (2.15) so unlucky at Royal Ascot last time really should get back to winning ways in the opener and the progressive Bated Breath (4.00) is napped to make it three out of three in the 6f handicap for Roger Charlton.