The Gurkha: was an impressive winner of the French 2,000 GuineasPICTURE: ScoopDyga
O'Brien could saddle The Gurkha in the Eclipse
THE GURKHA was on Sunday installed the new favourite for Saturday's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse by the race sponsor after Aidan O'Brien revealed the Classic winner could spearhead his Sandown team.
O'Brien had previously said that Deauville was Eclipse-bound, and The Gurkha earmarked for the Qatar Sussex Stakes, but plenty of rain at Sandown has led to a change of tack.
Coral on Sunday night quoted The Gurkha at 100-30, while Paddy Power also had him as market leader at 3-1, ahead of Time Test and My Dream Boat, though there is little to choose between the big three, and several firms make them 7-2 co-favourites.
The Gurkha retained his place alongside Galileo Gold as BoyleSports' 9-4 joint-favourite for the Sussex, and there is no reason the colt, who was second to Galileo Gold at Royal Ascot in the St James's Palace Stakes, having won the French 2,000 Guineas previously, could not run at Sandown and Goodwood, with the races three and a half weeks apart.
'The one to beat'
O'Brien said: "The Gurkha didn't do anything last week but he'll do a little bit at the start of this week and we will make a decision then. We'll see how he gets on in that but there's definitely a chance he could show up at Sandown."
Reacting to the news, Coral's David Stevens said: "Following his impressive French Guineas success and close second at Royal Ascot, The Gurkha would be a leading contender if lining up at Sandown. Indeed, we'd regard him as the one to beat and now make him favourite."
Forfeits for the Eclipse are made on Monday, and O'Brien added that Deauville and Long Island Sound might now be doubtful as the ground has gone against them, while US Army Ranger is on a break.
Ground conditions at Sandown were reported to be improving slowly on Sunday, but the surface is still very much on the soft side. The round course was soft, good to soft in places, and rain could fall on any day next week.