Al Kazeem has to be the call at 15/8 in tomorrow’s Coral-Eclipse

 
Bill Esdaile
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BILL ESDAILE GIVES HIS BEST RACING BETS FOR THE WEEKEND

TOMORROW’S Coral-Eclipse (3.50pm) is one of the greatest races of the flat season and is the first time we get to see how the Classic generation stand up against their older, more experienced rivals.

The three-year-olds haven’t had a good time of it in recent years, with Sea The Stars and Oratorio the only successes in the past decade.

Mars is the only representative from the age group this time and it will be fascinating to see how he performs after his two unlucky runs in the Investec Derby and St James’s Palace.

He stayed on eye-catchingly behind Dawn Approach and Toronado last time and the step up to 10 furlongs looks certain to suit. However, he has a habit of finding trouble and he just isn’t an each-way proposition at 11/2 with the sponsors in a seven-runner field.

It might also be significant that Aidan O’Brien has made the late decision to enter his stablemate Declaration Of War. The Queen Anne victor looked pretty special at Ascot and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the punters get stuck into him tomorrow.

He is a serious contender, but I’m not entirely convinced about the strength of that Queen Anne form. Also, his trainer indicated straight after the race that he was far more about speed than stamina, so a strongly run race over 10 furlongs up the punishing Sandown hill may count against him.

Roger Charlton has trained some pretty smart horses in his day, but AL KAZEEM could turn out to be the very best of them. Injury problems have affected this son of Dubawi, yet he looks to have improved massively this season.

Winning back-to-back Group One’s is no mean feat and he is just one of those really genuine horses that always tries his hardest. He did really well to pick up Mukhadram, who reopposes tomorrow, in the Prince Of Wales’s at Ascot and as long as that race hasn’t left its mark he is going to be very difficult to beat.

Before Declaration Of War was confirmed, Al Kazeem was a 6/4 shot and he can now be backed at 15/8 with Coral.

The Fugue is a danger, and she will have come on for her reappearance, but I get the impression that her big target is next month’s Nassau Stakes at Goodwood which she won last year.

I see no reason why Mukhadram will reverse the form with Al Kazeem and neither Pastorius, nor Miblish, look good enough.

Earlier on the card, Wentworth will seek to gain compensation from his Royal Ascot defeat in the Coral Challenge (2.40pm). However, he is becoming expensive to follow and I’m happy to oppose him, especially from his wide draw in stall 16. Richard Hughes will have to drop him in and hope the gaps open, but that is never easy over Sandown’s mile course.

Mark Johnston’s string is in fine fettle and I really like the look of his WINDHOEK from stall one with Ryan Moore booked. This three-year-old ran well in a Group Three at Ascot last month and the drop back from 10 furlongs to a mile should be right up his street. Take the 5/1 that is generally available.

Over at Haydock the big betting race is the Old Newton Cup (3.30pm) and FRANCISCAN is a strong fancy at 8/1 with Coral. He went off favourite for this race 12 months ago, but the soft ground was never going to suit. He’s 2lb lower this time, well drawn in stall five and ran really well to just be touched off at Carlisle last time.

Luca Cumani has an excellent record in this race, winning it three times in the past nine years, and the fact that my selection was his sole entry speaks volumes.

■ Pointers…

WINDHOEK 2.40pm Sandown (tomorrow)

FRANCISCAN e/w 3.30pm Haydock (tomorrow)

AL KAZEEM 3.50pm Sandown (tomorrow)