The Eclipse heads up a fantastic day of racing and Tony Calvin has five to follow at Sandown and Haydock in his look at Sunday's action...
"With plenty of pace in here, I can envisage Regal Reality travelling powerfully into the contest one furlong out, and hopefully he has the finishing kick to prevail this time around."
The most important betting news regarding Sunday's Eclipse was tucked away in a Racing Post story earlier in the week when John Gosden announced, to the market's complete surprise, that Lord North was heading for the Juddmonte instead of Sandown.
So a great each-way shape of a betting race suddenly became something of a damp squib with just the seven runners.
We all know how good Enable is, full stop, and we are all aware how potent Ghaiyyath is when getting on the front end and dominating, but neither appeal at their respective prices.
Enable has a great record when fresh, including when beating Magical and Regal Reality first time out in this race last season, but, even in the absence of Lord North, you suspect this a much deeper race this time around. And she is a 6yo now.
And I imagine Bangkok and Magic Wand will be snapping at the Godolphin horse's hooves too, not allowing him as easy a lead as he got at Newmarket, so I think there are legitimate grounds for taking on the front two at their odds.
The problem, as I said earlier, is that you ideally want the safety net of an each-way bet against them, and there is obviously nothing doing there now.
However, I am going to suggest backing Regal Reality at [40.0] or bigger in the 15:35.
The price has lured me in.
If the principals run up to their best, then he is playing for third place, but I thought he ran a tremendously encouraging first race of the season when third in the Wolferton.
Sure, the bare form is about a stone away from what is required to win here, but he travelled really well throughout the race on the outside, and simply wasn't able to pick up on soft ground he would have been hating.
That also hinted that a gelding operation over the winter could have helped him, and the expected better ground here - though there are spots of rain about on Saturday - will be very much in his favour.
He was a hugely impressive winner of a Brigadier Gerard on fast ground over course and distance last year, and he clearly ran a blinder when third in this contest last year.
With plenty of pace in here, I can envisage him travelling powerfully into the contest one furlong out, and hopefully he has the finishing kick to prevail this time around.
He is reported to come out of the Ascot race very well, though that is pretty obvious really given that he lines up.
A Princely punt
The 2yo opener at 13:15 is only on Racing TV, so I can leave that alone - not that I need a second invitation to ignore a 2yo race full of unexposed sorts - and the first ITV race is Group 3 5f Sprint at 13:50.
Surely, everyone's favourite sprinter is 11-year-old Caspian Prince and it was great to see him blitz home at Newcastle week.
Granted that victory only came off a mark of 98 but that was a pretty deep handicap and no way was I expecting the old boy to be available at [21.0] or bigger, so I have to be with him.
Current official marks give him plenty to find at these weights, but he was much better than these at his best - he was rated 118 in his pomp - and he clearly comes here in great nick.
He is drawn to blast away on the rail from his draw in two (favourite Lazuli is a speed rival on his outside in three but he will have to play second fiddle here, I imagine) and he only got collared in the final furlong in this race last year, when third - this is a better race, admittedly - but he was far from ideally berthed in 8 of 9 that day,
The 3yos could take some stopping off their light weights but, then again, Caspian Prince could take even more catching.
Loza an eyecatcher
The five-runner Henry VII Stakes at 14:25 is a disappointing heat, with Spanish Mission the most interesting prospect on show but it is isn't a betting heat, with Cross Counter the obvious one to beat if at anywhere near his best. He wasn't at Ascot, mind you, although that was on soft ground.
There is no surprise to see the Hunt cup 1-2 of Dark Vison and Montatham head the betting for the 1m handicap at 15:00.
I know Dark Vision won pretty emphatically there but the runner-up did remarkably well to finish second given that he had to tack across from the far side, and Montatham is the correct favourite here on 3lb better terms.
Indeed, I thought the opening 7/2 in a place was a fair enough price about him, as a 3lb rise for that Ascot run looked very fair, but there are one or two others in here that could prove troublesome, too.
Dean Street Doll (16:35pm) and Hector Loza (17:10pm) were the two that caught my eye in the later RTV races, if you are interested.
In fact, I will go outside my terrestrial brief and tip Hector Loza in the 7f handicap at 17:10 though I do fear Star In The Making.
He was given a mark of 92 after finishing fourth to Positive and Kameko in the Solario over course and distance last season, and he clearly hasn't kicked on from there.
But there was a lot more encouragement from him when fifth over 1m at Kempton last time, and he now finds himself on a mark of just 83.
The booking of Oisin Murphy (four wins and four seconds from 19 rides for the stable) is no negative, and he will do for me at [19.0] or bigger.
An each-way play at Haydock
We also have three Haydock races on ITV, and it is safe to proceed on the basis of heavy ground at the track.
The 1m6f handicap at 14:05 looks a hot little contest, as you would expect for a £60,000 pot.
I think everyone saw the wide trip and ride that Subjectivist got when third in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot, so no-one will have been surprised with a 3lb rise, and this half-brother to St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley shaped as if he, too, would appreciate this 1m6f trip.
Proven on soft ground, courtesy of his fourth to Pyledriver over 1m here last year - and his earlier second to Mohican Heights at Salisbury was clearly very strong form - he has a lot going for him.
I am always wary of expecting handicappers from this stable to back up good performances, but I think he will hard to get out of the frame, as competitive as this handicap is, so I am happy to back him at [5.5] or bigger to small stakes.
Well-handicapped Hand to set us on the way to being Rich
The six-runner Lancashire Oaks at 14:40 is not my cup of tea, but the 16-runner (though expect more non-runners, so keep an eye out for place terms) 1m4f handicap at 15:15 is.
As I mentioned in my ante-post piece earlier in the week I think Newmarket winner The Trader remains handicapped to win more races but I cannot see 1m4f in heavy ground here suiting him.
It will suit Ranch Hand and he looks a very solid each way bet at 13/2, five places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He was put up by every tipster and their dog in the 1m6f handicap at Royal Ascot - luckily, only his shortening price throughout the previous afternoon stopped me joining the crowd - and he ran an okay , if creditable, sixth there.
But he clearly didn't run badly - the horse immediately behind him, Collide, ran a great race in the Northumberland Plate - and this softer ground will be right up his strasse.
He looks a very well handicapped horse on his 1m6f win here in soft ground last season - the race was full of highly progressive, future winners - and he should make his presence felt off just a 5lb higher mark here with conditions more in his favour.
In fact, I like the angle of him coming back to 1m4f in what will be very gruelling ground.
Caspian Prince at [21.0] or bigger in 13:50 at Sandown
Subjectivist at [5.5] or bigger in 14:05 at Haydock
Ranch Hand at 13/2 each way, five places, with Sportsbook in 15:15 at Haydock
Regal Reality at [40.0] in 15:35 at Sandown
Hector Loza at [19.0] or bigger in 17:10 at Sandown