Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien believes a drop back in distance will help his boom three-year-old Cliffs Of Moher bounce back to form in Saturday’s Group One Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
The Coolmore colt loomed up to win the Epsom Derby last month with Ryan Moore in the saddle, but just peaked on his run to be overhauled by stablemate Wings Of Eagles in the shadows of the post.
After feeling the pinch at the end of the 2,420m Group One, Cliffs Of Moher drops back to 1,990m and O’Brien feels that will work better for him.
“He didn’t really see out the Derby distance and on Saturday we will see whether the Eclipse is his ideal trip,” O’Brien said. “We think it is and everything has gone well for him since Epsom.”
Wow! Watch again how WINGS OF EAGLES flies at the finish to beat CLIFFS OF MOHER and CRACKSMAN in a fantastic Investec Derby at Epsom. pic.twitter.com/i3ogi270x8— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) June 3, 2017
Despite the last start defeat, Cliffs Of Moher holds favouritism in local markets, just ahead of St James’s Palace Stakes hero Barney Roy, from the Richard Hannon yard.
The star Godolphin three-year-old proved too strong for his rivals in the Royal Ascot Group One, beating highly regarded types like Churchill and Thunder Snow in the process.
While Cliffs Of Moher is coming back in trip, Barney Roy is stepping up 396m and jockey James Doyle thinks he can handle it.
“I have been fortunate to ride some very good horses in my career, but none with the stride pattern of Barney Roy,” Doyle said. “His stride is huge, and on top of that, he is so powerful.
“His win in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot was outstanding in the circumstances. He did not jump away all that great, but there was no doubting the way he galloped through the line.
“Anybody wondering whether or not he can run a strong mile and a quarter should look at that performance.”
Another three-year-old, Eminent, is on the third line of betting after finishing fourth in the Epsom Derby but he’s likely to be up on the pace this time with Silvestre de Sousa taking the ride.
“Eminent has a long stride and I don’t think that holding him back plays to his strengths,” trainer Martyn Meade said. “So we are likely to have him up there early – serving it up to them.”
Of the older horses in the field, the market suggests Prince Of Wales’s Stakes placegetters Decorated Knight and Ulysses have the best hopes of keeping the youngsters at bay.
The Eclipse Stakes is the highlight of the Sandown meeting, with the Jockey Club simulcasting six of the seven races, with the first getting underway at 8.20pm.