Friday, July 5, 2013

Coral Eclipse - The Fugue can test Al Kazeem

Saturday's Coral Eclipse is an opportunity for Al Kazeem to confirm his Royal Ascot win and proclaim himself the best middle-distance horse in England. The main question is whether he can bag his third Group 1 win in a row in a short span of 6 weeks. He is clearly the best-rated horse in the race and if he is 100% fit, there is no doubt in my mind that the rest are running for the places.

I think the market has it right and the winner will come out of these; Al Kazeem, Declaration of War and The Fugue. Mukhadram had AK dig deep at Ascot but my feeling is that the margin between the two will only enlarge given the same amount of days rest. Mars is an interesting contender but being a 3-year old and lightly-raced, I believe his lack of experience will be detrimental on the day. Pastorius is coming back from a disappointing raid in Singapore and there are question marks as to how well he's recuperated from his trip. On his best form, he can be a danger in a Group 1, but I feel that this race might be coming a little too soon for him after his Far East venture.

DOW bounced back fantastically in landing the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot after flopping badly in the Lockinge. The dilemma is knowing what condition Aidan O'Brien has him now; is he under-cooked, over-cooked or spot on? That's the problem with the Ballydoyle genius trainer, he can get them spot on or he can wreck them big time (I won't go over the So You Think episodes again). Although he's won at the distance and further, I still think that he would be better suited and more dangerous at the mile. He cannot be discarded though particularly if AK and The Fugue don't run their race.

The Fugue ran a cracking third in the Prince of Wales after a long layoff. She stayed on very well and there is no doubt that she will go into the Eclipse in far better shape. 11 furlongs is possibly her best trip. She will absolutely love the fast ground conditions at Sandown. I think there will be less than the 3.5 lengths separation at Ascot between her and AK this time. In my cards, she's the second favourite of the race.

AK has proven to be top-class and I believe only a short time of recuperation from his last run can stop him on Saturday. On level terms and adequate rest, he would dominate this field. The Fugue is on the ascendancy and will pounce on any weakness from AK. At current odds, the latter looks very short, while The Fugue looks good each-way value. That is my selection.

Each-way: The Fugue

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