Decision made: Eclipse the next stop for Derby hero Masar
The Coral-Eclipse is to be Derby winner Masar’s next target, trainer Charlie Appleby revealed on Wednesday.
Appleby's inclination the day after the colt's landmark Derby victory – the first time Godolphin's blue silks had been carried to success in the Epsom Classic – was that Masar would stick to a mile and a half and head to the Curragh for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby this month.
However, it has now been decided to drop back to a mile and a quarter at Sandown on July 7.
Appleby said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and I discussed Masar’s programme at length and have reached the conclusion the Eclipse will suit him best.
“We'll leave him in the Irish Derby, just to keep all options open. But the intention is to run in the Eclipse."
Appleby agrees that success in a Group 1 mile and a quarter race will add more to Masar's stud value than a second success against three-year-olds at a mile and a half, but insists that at the forefront of the debate was that the Eclipse is the right race for him.
Appleby said: "Would winning the Eclipse enhance Masar's stallion appeal more than winning the Irish Derby? Of course. A mile and a quarter Group 1 on his page would look very nice when he goes to stud, but more so it's potentially the right race for him.
"We'd all love to win an Irish Derby, of course we would, but first and foremost is to do what's right for the horse. It's easy to get drawn into making a plan immediately after a big race, and it's what people want, but it's better to let the dust settle.
"Watching the Derby over and over again, as we have done, you can't help but be pleased with the way Masar travelled into the race, and William [Buick] was able to sit there with a lot of confidence as he probably had them all beat bar Roaring Lion at the two-furlong marker."
Appleby, who confirmed his Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion on course for next Thursday's Ribblesdale Stakes, added: "He's a good winner at Sandown already and so has track experience, and the stiff mile and a quarter of the Eclipse will suit.
"Remember, William's first words after the Guineas were that he was a ten-furlong horse running against milers."
Coral quote Masar – who needs to be supplemented at a cost of £50,000 – at 15-8 favourite (from 2) for the Eclipse, with Roaring Lion 11-4 next best.
Buick said: "I gather the Eclipse is what has been talked about but I also gather he'll be left in the Irish Derby.
"I'm very happy with him going for the Coral-Eclipse as trip-wise he's very versatile, and going back to a mile and a quarter won't be a problem. He's won at the track as well so it's all positive."
Masar, meanwhile, also featured among 34 entries unveiled on Wednesday for the Qipco-backed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 28.
Aidan O'Brien has 11 entries, eight of whom are three-year-olds. They include Derby fourth Saxon Warrior, who was cut to 4-7 (from 8-13) for the Irish version following the news that Masar is heading to Sandown.
Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee could be among Saxon Warrior's rivals at the Curragh.
Trainer Mark Johnston's son Charlie said: "He's in great order. With Masar now going for the Eclipse it would make it a lot more likely we'll go to Ireland. His two options are the Irish Derby and Prix du Jockey Club."
Buick has a number of good rides to look forward to at Royal Ascot next week.
He said: "It looks like Wild Illusion is going for the Ribblesdale. She ran very well in the Oaks [to be second], and we're well represented in a couple of the handicaps.
"Blue Point will probably go for the King's Stand. He's in the Diamond Jubilee as well so we'll see."
Sponsor: 15-8 Masar, 11-4 Roaring Lion, 8 Benbatl, Poet’s Word, Saxon Warrior, 10 Crystal Ocean, Hawkbill, 12 Cliffs Of Moher, 14 Elarqam, Gustav Klimt, 16 Forest Ranger, Forever Together, Happily, 20 bar
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