Before the race on Saturday, the Coral Eclipse was billed as one of the best renewals of the 1m2f Group 1 we had seen for years, and in truth, the race itself didn’t disappoint, as we saw a thrilling tussle up the Sandown hill, eventually won by french star Vadeni. The money arrived for Bay Bridge who was sent off 9/4f and underwhelmed back in fifth, whereas the big drifting French raider Vadeni (11/4) showed class and guts in equal measure to deny the arguably unlucky MIshriff in a pulsating encounter. Native Trail was back in third, as only half a length separated the front three. Vadeni has now announced himself the top echelons of European horses, and it will be fascinating to see what targets connections plot going further forward. Tipped up in this column for October’s Arc De Triomphe at 8/1, he is as short as 5s now, and connections have suggested that they will be very likely to have a crack at it. Soumillion was asked as to whether the 1m4f Arc trip would be within range for the colt, and he was non-committal; ‘we won’t know until we try, but he’s one of the best horses I have sat on’. We shall see what develops, but he is one of the most exciting horses in Europe at present.
Looking ahead to this weekend, and Soumillon could be back for more glory as the Darley July Cup takes centre stage at Newmarket on Saturday, with Perfect Power the current 5/2 favourite. However; keep your eyes on the weather - connections have stated that the ground, officially described Good To Firm when winning the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot was ‘as quick as we would like it’, and with conditions potentially playing out just as quick this weekend at the headquarters of flat racing, there is the backup plan of heading to France for the Prix Jean Prat over 7f a day later. So plans remain fluid with the multiple Group 1 winner - keep your eyes peeled.
Going slightly off-piste, and Westover heads the market for the St Leger in September at 2/1. But it is the horse that finished last of eight behind him in the Irish Derby that I think could be a bit of a joker in the pack and is currently 50/1 - the David Menusier-trained Lionel. He deserves to be that price on the basis of his last run, but that came on unsuitably quick ground, and before that had looked a progressive type when winning a Listed contest at Goodwood when mud was splatting on the goggles. He wants juice in the ground and a proper test of stamina in my view, and I think 1m6f on Town Moor should be tailor-made for him. There is a bit of water to pass under the bridge between now and then, and I think with a wet week in Yorkshire beforehand, he would be far from a forlorn hope.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.