After the shock of Saturday’s Derby, Sunday brings another big race in which the front-runner may not be caught. In the case of Ghaiyyath (3.35), however, there would be nothing in the least surprising about it.
Naturally exuberant, the Godolphin horse has made all to win three of his last four races, the only exception being the Arc, in which he flopped. A very testing surface may have made the difference that day and it is reassuring that this Eclipse Stakes will be run on a drying surface.
The knock on Ghaiyyath is that he flops when sent back to the track soon after a previous run. But there are only two arguable examples of that on his record, with other explanations available, and he is reckoned to be stronger this year. At 5-2, it looks well worth taking the risk.
Enable is an intimidating opponent but this might be the best time to face her, as she has her first run since October. Aged six, it would be no surprise if she were harder to get fit and she improved for her reappearance last year, for all that she managed to win it.
Japan is another to worry about but he needs to take a big step forward on his Royal Ascot effort, less than three weeks ago.
1.50 Sandown With the Michael Dods yard hitting its stride in recent days, Dakota Gold should be getting more respect than is implied by odds of 8-1. Five times a winner from his seven races last year, he will be sharper for his admittedly disappointing effort at Doncaster three weeks ago, when he was slowly away after anticipating the start.
2.05 Haydock There was no Derby joy for Ralph Beckett, whose Max Vega finished well held, but this card looks like being more productive for the Hampshire trainer, who has had plenty of winners in the past month. He is adept at helping a horse to build up a winning run and Jellystone looks like one with more to offer after a couple of recent successes. The step up to middle distances has been key to him and, although he was beaten on soft ground as a juvenile, he should cope better now.
2.25 Sandown The main concern about Cross Counter is that he took part in what was an attritional Gold Cup, at least for the beaten horses, just over a fortnight ago. But that was only his second start of the year and he must have built up a certain hardiness with his international travels over the past two years. He meets lesser rivals at level weights and victory looks the percentage call.
2.40 Haydock Beckett has two similarly named fillies at the top of the betting, with Manuela De Vega taken to outpoint Antonia De Vega, as she did when they were placed in Munich in November. The form of her reappearance win got a substantial boost when the runner-up, Fanny Logan, followed up in the Hardwicke.
3.00 Sandown This will be a very different test to Ascot’s straight mile but it is hard to shake the memory of Montatham’s fine effort at the Royal meeting, when second in the Hunt Cup after racing on the edge of a big group of horses. He was undone by the stronger finish of Dark Vision but has the better draw this time and is 3lb better off at the weights.
3.15 Haydock Quite a few of these were involved in the Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot, with Scarlet Dragon running on powerfully to score by half a length under an inspired Hollie Doyle. Connections have hired the talented claimer Cieren Fallon in an attempt to reduce the impact of a 7lb rise but Deja may be able to turn the tables just the same. He took a keen hold on that first run since November and could be a bit more professional here, with the sharper track also likely to help. He travelled memorably well that day and is worth another chance.