John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff heads a small but select list of seven contenders for Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
The four-year-old is already a Group One winner in France and Dubai and will be aiming to win at the highest level for the first time on home soil.
He has also won the Saudi Cup on dirt, beating some specialist American challengers to prove his versatility.
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Aidan O’Brien is likely to field the main opposition with three of the seven hailing from Ballydoyle.
He can choose from French 2000 Guineas and Derby winner St Mark’s Basilica, who will be tackling older horses for the first time, Armory, who was third to stablemate Love at Royal Ascot and Japan, who took third behind Ghaiyyath in this race last year.
William Haggas will be hoping it rains during the week to enable him to run the soft-ground lover Addeybb.
While the gelding may be seven years old now, he showed he is as good as ever when once again winning a Group One in Australia in April.
David Menuisier enjoyed one of the finest days of his career when Wonderful Tonight won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. She remains in the mix but would be dropping in trip and requires ease in the ground.
Roger Varian’s El Drama completes the possibles. The Dee Stakes winner finished only 15th behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Prix du Jockey Club.
Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper reported conditions on the round track to be a mixture of good to soft and soft following rain on Sunday.
“We had about 18 millimetres of rain on Sunday evening and we’ve had a murky, drizzly morning. We’d been dry for best part of a week,” he said.
“I walked the course this morning and the round course was a mixture of soft and good to soft. Overall, you could call it good to soft, soft in places. The five-furlong course was soft.
“There are showers forecast today and Tuesday. We are under a low pressure system so what happens over the next 48 hours will be key to where we are at the end of the week. We are not clear of that until Wednesday morning.
“Wednesday to Friday looks drier, but no great rise in temperatures all week and for the weekend there is suggestion of some showery activity coming from the Atlantic that might influence things, but that is some way off.
“Last night’s rain has left us on the easy side. We’re just going to monitor daily and see where we go.
“It’s unlikely to be quickish ground but, depending what happens in the next 48 hours, somewhere near good is possible.”
Cooper was happy with the shape of the field for the Eclipse.
“I am not surprised it is a comparatively smallish number. Of the 31 left in prior to today, a lot had run recently. Aidan (O’Brien) had 13 of them and he was not going to confirm everything,” he added.
“What it delivers is a clash of the generations – the French Derby winner (St Mark’s Basilica) going up against the calibre of Mishriff. That is what the Eclipse is all about.”
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