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Contender profiles and trainer views as Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior clash

Roaring Lion: Dante winner likely to be sent off favourite in Masar's absence
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2.10 Sandown 
Coral-Eclipse | Group 1 | 3yo+ | 1m2f | ITV/RUK 

You have to go back to 1990 to find a horse placed third in the Derby who followed up in the Eclipse – namely Elmaamul – although Hawk Wing did win it in 2002 after filling second spot at Epsom.

John Gosden has experienced highs and lows in the contest, having Derby winner Benny The Dip turned over in 1997 but hitting the board twice since, with four-year-old Nathaniel (2012) and the year-younger Golden Horn (2015).

Even as a juvenile, ten furlongs looked to be Roaring Lion's game and it was no surprise he did not have the gears for a mile in the spring, when he finished behind Masar in the first of their three encounters in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Although he ran better in the 2,000 Guineas a couple of weeks later, Roaring Lion really took off when upped to this trip in the Dante Stakes at York, scoring impressively by four and a half lengths from Mildenberger.

Those in arrears have failed to pull up any trees since, but the Qatar Racing-owned grey stepped up on that when beaten just two lengths in the Derby, where he may have found the last furlong beyond him.

Roaring Lion - enjoyed a racecourse gallop last weekend

This has been the plan for Roaring Lion, who had a workout on the July course last Saturday when Kieran O'Neill let him breeze past a rather reluctant companion out of the dip to finish well on top.

Gosden said: "We nominated this race for Roaring Lion immediately after he passed the post at Epsom so we've stuck to the plan.

"The trip should be fine for him dropping back to ten furlongs and he has worked nicely since, including on the July course, where we went for the nice ground.

"It's an interesting race with Saxon Warrior coming over; hopefully it will be a good show before the football starts." 

Pros Trip should play to his strengths and has a nice turn of foot if he gets into any trouble

Cons Looked straightforward at Epsom but has displayed a tendency to hang left in the past which could cost him significant ground.


Saxon Warrior and Ryan Moore (right) before the Irish Derby
Saxon Warrior has reputation to redeem

Saxon Warrior, whose season began in a blaze of glory in the 2,000 Guineas, finds himself on a recovery mission after coming up short over a mile and a half in the Derby and Irish Derby.

He will be racing over a mile and a quarter for the first time and, with Ryan Moore on duty for Ballydoyle in New York, Donnacha O'Brien, who rode the colt to victory at Newmarket, is back on board.

Aidan O'Brien, who is also represented by Happily and Cliffs Of Moher, has sent out five winners of the Eclipse and victory for any of his trio would mean he equals the trainers' race record jointly held by Alec Taylor and Sir Michael Stoute.

The race comes only seven days after the Irish Derby, after which O'Brien initially indicated that Saxon Warrior would have a short break before being aimed at the Juddmonte International and the Irish Champion Stakes.

The trainer said on Friday: "We left him in the Eclipse and decided to run him as he seemed to have come out of the Irish Derby well.

"You never know when you run one back so soon, but everyone here is very happy with him and we're looking forward to running him over the trip. We've always thought a mile and a quarter would be fine for him."

No filly has landed the prize since Kooyonga in 1992, and Happily, the only female in the line-up, will be attempting to bridge that gap.

Third in the 1,000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent, she finished a close fourth in the Prix de Diane when stepped up in trip and already has a Group 1 win over the colts on her CV, having landed the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly in October.

O'Brien said of Wayne Lordan's mount: "When Ryan [Moore] got off Happily after the Diane he said he thought the Eclipse would suit her well. We're happy with her."

Cliffs Of Moher is back for a second crack at the race, for which he started favourite 12 months ago but finished fourth after meeting trouble in running.

He returns to Sandown after a busy few days at Royal Ascot last month, where he finished a well-beaten fourth in the Prince of Wales's Stakes before coming third in the Hardwicke.

Seamie Heffernan, who was successful on O'Brien's most recent winner of the race, So You Think in 2011, rides last year's Derby runner-up, of whom O'Brien said: "He had no luck in the race last year. He came out of Royal Ascot well and we decided to let him take his chance."

Saxon Warrior

Pros Looked class act at Newmarket and interesting going this trip for the first time after Derby defeats

Cons Work to do to restore his reputation. Comes very quickly after Irish Derby run

Happily

Pros Already a Group 1 winner against the colts and solid form at the top level this year

Cons Trip shoudn't be a problem based on Prix de Diane effort but probably place chance at best


Forest Ranger (Tony Hamilton) beats War Decree in the Huxley Stakes

Forest Ranger a fresh horse after missing Ascot

Forest Ranger ran to a decent level as a three-year-old but bagged only one of his seven races. It has been a different story in 2018, with two starts yielding two convincing wins and earning him a coveted place in one of the sport's premier races.

Victories in the Earl of Sefton and Huxley Stakes have confirmed the Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old, the only gelding in the field, as an improved performer, but even more will be required if Tony Hamilton is to ride his first Group 1 winner.

Fahey said: "The Eclipse has very definitely been the aim since Chester and we deliberately sidestepped Ascot in order to come straight here. I thought I'd let the Ascot horses bang their heads together and meet them later.

"He's going to have to up his game but I've been impressed with what he's done so far. I don't think the tank has been empty at the end of either of his wins this year."

While Forest Ranger would perhaps be a surprise winner of the Eclipse, success for the twice-raced Raymond Tusk would represent a huge shock.

That said, Middleham Park Racing's Newmarket novice-race second is trained by Richard Hannon, who stunned the sport when Billesdon Brook captured the 1,000 Guineas.

"We've always thought a great deal of him and he'll have needed his latest run, so don’t completely rule out him running a big race," Hannon told Unibet, adding: "We've already had a 66-1 Group 1 winner this season, so who’s to say it can’t happen again!"


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A few of us are coming back in trip, some are proven over the trip. This Eclipse is one of the racing highlights of the summer
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