Eminent ready to make it third time lucky at the Eclipse
Thrilling colt Eminent will be aiming for third time lucky as he seeks to underline his group one potential at Sandown, writes James Toney.
Trainer Martyn Meade has never lost belief in this classy sire of Frankel, who found the 2000 Guineas too sharp but stepped up well to finish a strong fourth at the Epsom Derby.
And he believes, once the perfect race opens up, he'll fly - with the Coral-Eclipse, part of the Qipco British Champions Series, his next target.
Aidan O'Brien's Cliffs of Moher will start favourite at Sandown, after leading the Derby market but losing out to unfancied stablemate Wings of Eagles.
Eminent - a fleet-footed record-breaking winner of the Craven Stakes in May - finished just a length behind him at Epsom.
And Meade has watched rerun after rerun of that race and is convinced he is ready to reverse the result.
Champion jockey Jim Crowley, who had ridden the horse in all his previous starts, has made way for the in-form Silvestre de Sousa at Sandown.
"He has so much presence and he knows he is a star and he behaves like it too," said Meade, who reported his charge hit 40mph on the gallops in the same week he unseated work rider Glen Osborne, leaving him requiring replacement hip surgery.
"On the basis we were squeezed at the Derby and only beaten by a length, I'm confident we can change that around.
"He came out of Epsom really well and this is the time and the race for him. He's got some big experience now and while it's been great taking him to all these big races, we don't want to be a bridesmaid anymore.
"The Derby can be very hard on horses and can sometimes set them back but he's raring and ready to go.
"This track will suit, a good gallop over a stiff ten furlongs. I think he's going to sparkle and, hopefully, it's third time lucky."
Eminent is third in the market for the next showpiece of the flat racing season behind O'Brien's charge and Richard Hannon's exciting colt Barney Roy.
Hannon still thinks his horse should have beaten Churchill to win the first classic of the season at Newmarket but he gained revenge at Royal Ascot, reversing that result to win the St Jamesâ€™s Palace Stakes.
However, Hannon's doesn't have trends or history on his side, with the recent record of top class mile performances transferring to middle distance races hardly impressive.
"I don't know he'll get the trip, but I hope he will and I think he will," he said.
"He's been in great form since Ascot and he came out of the race very well and very fresh. He's been as good as ever in training this week."
O'Brien certainly has no worries about the drop back in trip for his favourite, who won the Dee Stakes at Chester - which proved the best Derby trial - over a similar trip.
"Everything has been grand with him since the Derby, when he only lost near the finish," he said. "Dropping back will suit him and we know he gets this trip."