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Enable heads star field of eight for Coral-Eclipse Stakes

4 Jul 2019

The seven-time Group One winner will seek to emulate her sire by winning the Sandown feature on her reappearance

Enable heads a final field of eight for the Coral-Eclipse. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Enable will face seven rivals when she makes her eagerly awaited return in the £750,000 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on Saturdaybxfvzftcrvatut.

The seven-time Group One winner, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden, has been beaten in just one of her 11 races and earned her connections more than £8 million in prize money. She pulled off a historic double last autumn when winning a second Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before following up in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

Saturday’s showpiece, run over a mile and a quarter, will be her first race for eight months but the portents are good as her sire, Nathaniel, also trained by Gosden, overcame a similar absence when landing the Coral-Eclipse in 2012.

Enable’s sequence of nine successive wins, ridden by Frankie Dettori on each occasion, also includes three QIPCO British Champions Series triumphs in 2017 – the Investec Oaks, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

She will seek to become only the third of her sex – and the oldest – to win the Coral-Eclipse, a race that forms part of the Middle-Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series. Pebbles (1985) and Kooyonga (1992) are the only fillies to have won the feature and they were aged four, whereas Enable is five.

One of her principal rivals is the Cheveley Park Stud-owned Regal Reality, who will attempt to provide trainer Sir Michael Stoute with a record-breaking seventh success in the race.

The four-year-old colt’s grandsire, Medicean, who also carried the Cheveley Park silks of Patricia and David Thompson, was among Stoute’s previous six Coral-Eclipse winners when successful in 2001.

Regal Reality put up a career-best performance on his latest start when he was an emphatic winner of the Group 3 Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park over the Coral-Eclipse course and distance, with subsequent Group 3 Paris Longchamp winner Danceteria almost seven lengths back in third.

Regal Reality was always travelling like a winner on his first start beyond a mile, although he proved tricky in the preliminaries and less than straightforward to get to the start.

Chris Richardson, Managing Director at Cheveley Park, admitted: “He had a ‘moment’ that evening but things slightly went against him, as far as he was concerned. He’s a horse who likes routine and on that occasion he was being asked to come into the paddock at a moment there was a horse coming out, and it just upset his rhythm.

“If you change his routine a home, including on gallops, it can be the same, but he’s hugely talented and it did not affect him once the race got under way. He was impressive and Sir Michael is of the opinion that he deserves to take his chance.

“By all standards it’s a very competitive race against some significant opposition, but the horse is in great form and has performed positively at the track. I think moving up to a mile and a quarter suited him last time and I know Sir Michael feels it is going to be his advantage going forwards.”

He added: “The Eclipse is one of Mr and Mrs Thompson’s favourite races and they are delighted to have a runner, and to be participating. One has to be respectful of a very strong field and Enable is a deserved favourite, but if you are not in you can’t win and at the end of the day we are not going to run away from one.”

Stoute is renowned for keeping his cards close to his chest and Richardson says that extends to him. Asked if the trainer divulges lots of information, he said: “I wish! As we all know he’s a brilliant man, a genius. A nod and a wink can sometimes tell you all.

“We would not have gone to the Breeders’ Cup [with the triumphant Queen’s Trust in 2016] had Sir Michael not said ‘this is a very good filly, you ought to have a go’. We are very much guided by his opinion and he has been keen all along that this is a race we should go for [with Regal Reality].”

Stoute will also be represented by Mustashry, the decisive Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes winner, while his Newmarket neighbour, Roger Varian, will saddle Zabeel Prince, who landed the Prix d’Ispahan at Paris Longchamp in late May.

Aidan O’Brien is seeking a record-equalling sixth Coral-Eclipse victory, although he has not struck since So You Think won the 2011 renewal. He relies on two-time Group 1 winner Magical plus Hunting Horn.

Magical has two Group 1 wins on her CV – the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes plus Tattersalls Gold Cup – and finished three-quarters of a length second to Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. On her latest start, she was runner-up to Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The past two winners of the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes to contest the Eclipse, Golden Horn (2015) and Roaring Lion (2018), have triumphed and Telecaster, the sole three-year-old in the line-up, will attempt to improve that sequence. The form of his York win has been franked but he himself subsequently disappointed when trailing home last in the Derby.

Hughie Morrison, his trainer, said: “Epsom probably came too soon for him and the course was probably not to his liking. He is bursting with energy at home, so we thought we’d better run him.

“He’s a horse who has got a lot of ability and we look forward to a good run – I just hope he turns up. He didn’t at Epsom and there was no reason to think that he wouldn’t, other than he had not had enough time to recover from a hard race 16 days before [in the Dante], as well as the fact that he was an immature horse who’d had three races in the spring. We had that doubt in our mind.

“Will we get the horse which ran in the Dante on Saturday, or the one who ran in the Derby? He doesn’t give you any outward signs of the contrary. It’s pretty unnerving and it would be easy to bottle it, but he looks well, is working well and opportunities like this do not come along very often.”