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Coral-Eclipse: Queen of the turf Enable out to shine as all roads lead to Paris

Enable: a third Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is her ultimate aim
Enable: a third Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is her ultimate aimCredit: Edward Whitaker

3.35 Sandown
Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) | 1m2f | 3yo+ | ITV/RTV

Here we go. The path to Paris and a tilt at winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for a record third time starts with the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse for Enable.

She could have started her campaign in the Coronation Cup or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, but, perhaps showing her inner Goldilocks, it is Sandown’s summer championship for which Enable has come ‘just right’.

While the anticipation has been building ahead of her return to the course for the first time since early November, those closest to the five-year-old have been keen to ensure she was not rushed back into competitive action before she was ready.

The test offered up by the Coral-Eclipse may not be perfect for Enable and being spot on for the Arc is her unabashed goal, but she is a formidable opponent for those brave enough to take her on.

Her record is outstanding, winning ten of her 11 starts, including the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf, alongside her two triumphs in the Arc.

The only reversal in that sequence came when she finished third in a conditions race at Newbury in the spring of 2017, her only previous attempt at Saturday’s 1m2f trip, albeit it was also only the second race of her life.

It is also worth keeping in mind that Enable was able to achieve victories in the September Stakes at Kempton, where she beat future Group 1-winner Crystal Ocean, the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year despite not being at her best.

The vibes have been positive for Enable over the course of the last three weeks, with Frankie Dettori partnering her in impressive workouts under the watchful eyes of trainer John Gosden and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah.

Gosden said: “We have been happy with the filly, particularly over the last two weeks. We're aware that she has not run for eight months and we're sure the race will bring her on.

“Obviously, we have started her season deliberately halfway through the year since the main target remains the Arc. Frankie knows the filly well and she's versatile as regards tactics so I'll leave it to him.”

The worldwide appeal of Enable means viewers in over 50 countries will be watching the Coral-Eclipse, including Australia’s leading free-to-air TV channel Network Ten, which will be broadcasting live coverage of British racing for the first time.

ProsAn outstanding mare who has been able to win top-class races when not at her best
ConsBeaten on her only attempt at 1m2f

Seventh heaven: Can Stoute capture another Eclipse?

No-one has trained more winners of the Coral-Eclipse than Sir Michael Stoute, who saddles Mustashry and Regal Reality in a bid to win the Group 1 for a record seventh time.

Opera House, Ezzoud, Pilsudski, Medicean, Notnowcato and Ulysses have all triumphed at Sandown for Stoute, putting him alongside Alec Taylor Jr as the most-successful trainer in the race’s history.

Lockinge Stakes winner Mustashry goes back up in trip after running below par in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, while Regal Reality steps up in class after winning the Brigadier Gerard over course and distance on his most recent outing.

“Mustashry disappointed me slightly at Ascot,” Stoute said. “He wasn’t at his very best and he didn’t seem to fire. We’ve been happy with him since and he’s a very versatile horse. He’s a competitor and he loves doing what he does.

“Regal Reality’s got to take the next step now and he’s got a bit to find. I like the way he’s progressing. He’s a four-year-old, the other horse is six, so maybe he’s progressing more. It’s a very tough Eclipse but we’re going to have a crack.”

Regal Reality
Progressive and a course-and-distance winner
Cons Yet to race at Group 1 level and this is a tough first ask

Group 1 winner and a course-and-distance winner
ConsFailed to reproduce Lockinge effort last time out

Will O'Brien cast an Eclipse spell with Magical?

While Enable is stepping out for the first time this season in the Coral-Eclipse, Magical is as battle-hardened as they come and they are set to take each other on for the third time.

The score is two-nil to Enable in that respect, although Magical gave her something to think about in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year.
Magical: second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes
Magical: second in the Prince of Wales's StakesCredit: Alain Barr

However, she was not good enough that day and was not quite at her best behind Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. More will be needed if she is to triumph at Sandown, where she will be joined by stablemate Hunting Horn, who will be ridden by last weekend’s Irish Derby-winning jockey Padraig Beggy.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who is seeking a sixth win in the Coral-Eclipse, said: “We were very happy with Magical's run at Royal Ascot. She came out of the race well and is in good form.

“Hunting Horn is a hardy colt who has done a lot of travelling in the past year. He, too, seems fine since Ascot where he made the running and finished two places behind Magical.”

Race-fit and a Group 1 winner at this trip
ConsHas failed to beat Enable in two previous meetings

Will we see the real Telecaster after Derby flop?

The Derby has been and gone, and what happened that day is best forgotten for trainer Hughie Morrison and the owners of Telecaster. All eyes now are on the future.

Supplemented for Epsom after winning the Dante in style, Telecaster failed to perform in the Derby and trailed home last, with a busy spring schedule, or potentially the razzmatazz of the occasion, getting the better of the three-year-old.

Effervescent and ebullient at home since his Derby run, Telecaster drops back to the trip over which he won the Dante, and what Morrison wants more than anything from his runner is for him to show what he is capable of – whatever that might be in the context of this race.

“You couldn’t say he isn’t in good nick, but it was the same before the Derby,” the trainer said. “We didn’t get what we were expecting from him that day but he’s in good form and we’re hoping he can show what he’s capable of.

“It’ll be noted that he’s hot and on his toes before the race but it was the same at Windsor, at York and at Epsom. I don’t think that’ll beat him and I don’t think that beat him in the Derby – that’s just him and we cannot change that.”

He added: “We’re coming back to the conditions under which he won the Dante and we know those conditions suit him very well. What we want is to see him turn up and run his race, whatever that is. If he’s beaten then so be it as long as he’s run his race.”

ProsProgressive in the spring and an impressive winner of the Dante over 1m2f
ConsA buzzy type who failed to run his race in the Derby

What the rest say

David Menuisier, trainer of Danceteria
He's not tackled this level before. He won really well in France off a slow pace, it's quite amazing to be able to quicken like he did, especially against French horses who are used to sprinting in the final stages of the race. The idea of running is to gauge how good he is. He could run well and finish last in a race like this.

Roger Varian, trainer of Zabeel Prince
I’m always a bit nervous coming back after a disappointing run but we think he just couldn’t pick his feet out of that very soft ground at Ascot. He deserves another chance at this level, over this trip and on this ground. We’re expecting him to bounce back and we would hope to learn whether we’re right and he can compete with the best at this trip or if he needs to come back in distance. He’s a Group 1 winner and he’s definitely good enough to run well in this.

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor
Published on 5 July 2019Last updated 18:34, 5 July 2019