Kevin Blake

Alan Dudman's Big Race Verdict: Back Al Riffa for stamina in Saturday's Eclipse

Sandown Racecourse
Saturday's Group 1 Coral Eclipse provides a top level class of the generations

The Big Race Verdict rolls on to Sandown on Saturday and Alan Dudman previews the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse...

  • City Of Troy a strong odds-on favourite for G1 honours

  • Can Ghostwriter or Jayarebe outrun their odds?

  • With three places, Alan Dudman goes for a 16/117.00 pick for Sandown

  • Champions Full Gallop - coming soon to ITV

Ryan Moore Superboost

Ryan Moore rides potential superstar colt City Of Troy in today's Eclipse Stakes at Sandown (15:35) and the combination are red hot favourites at 2/71.29 to land the prize after Aidan O'Brien's 3yo stormed to success in last month's Epsom Derby.

But if 2/71.29 is too short for you then the Betfair Sportsbook is where you need to be as City Of Troy ha been boosted to 1/12.00 to win today's feature race. Just click on the odds in the below banner to go directly to the pre-loaded betslip.

Listen to Racing Only Bettor...

Troy head and shoulders above the rest in the betting

Not a lot has changed since my ante-post column earlier in the week in terms of the price of City Of Troy, but there has been a deviation in terms of one strong, viable opponent with the absence of White Birch - whose bloods are still not right.

Now, putting up a 2/71.29 for a betting column is about as useful as wearing steel-capped espadrilles, and if you like backing at those prices, for sure, you have a Derby winner getting weight against a field that has been weakened considerably by one.

Aidan O'Brien has seven Eclipse wins in the bag - the first coming in 2000 with Giants Causeway. O'Brien has to be commended for not swerving races and wrapping up his stars in cotton wool, and the breeding aspect and stud rights come massively into play here. With the obsession with speed amongst the buying and selling fraternity, a Derby winner that can win dropping back to 1m2f is a prized commodity.

We will see if he's up there with past winners.

Is there an each-way bet with three places?

The ground could be a key factor here for a big price runner despite the relatively small sized field, and at the start of play on Friday ahead of the two-day Sandown-Eclipse meeting, the going had changed from good, good to firm in places to good on the round course and good, good to soft in places on the sprint course.

More rain is predicted for Friday so it could be prudent to assess a selection's chance with the ability to act with cut.

I wonder what sort of price Ghostwriter would have have been without his run in France?

Currently priced at 8/19.00 from 10/111.00, he finished 4L down in the Prix Du Jockey Club. And while a fine run in itself, I was left a bit disappointed with it after his effort in the 2,000 Guineas.

It was heavy in France, and he explored a new trip in the shape of the extended 1m2f. Ghostwriter had a rough match with another horse in that, and while run at a steady pace, he wasn't a strong finisher by any means. His trainer Clive Cox said afterwards he didn't have the requisite change of gear that he has on quicker ground.

He won twice on fast as a juvenile, and it is a slight worry for Saturday.

On the plus side he is drawn in one, so Cox might consider going forward with him like he did in his two-year-old races.

Dancing Gemini shouldn't mind the potential going change as he has form in good to soft not to have any fears on that front.

He was well beaten in the Derby behind City Of Troy and he appeared a non-stayer in the race. Pace-wise, the drop back to 1m2f does bring him closer to City Of Troy and on his run in the French 2,000 Guineas would have a good chance of getting a place.

Dancing Gemini should have won in France and his two-year-old form against Ancient Wisdom makes him an obvious play in terms of a place. However, on ratings he has 11lbs to find with City Of Troy, and Al Riffa is 1lb superior.

Elsewhere, Royal Ascot winner Jayarebe is priced at 12/113.00, and was a drifter on Friday afternoon from 10/111.00.

That could be ground related as his sole run on good to soft saw him beaten - admittedly in the Group 1 Lagadere behind Rosalion.

He has been campaigned like a good horse and bounced back from Chester with a win in the Royal Ascot Hampton Court. Although on bare form, he'd have to improve a fair bit to get near City Of Troy.

Sean Levey rides, and if it was a straight shoot-out between Levey and Kieran Shoemark in a big race, I'd plump for Levey every single time.

Whittling down the field for viable alternatives means we can take out Hans Andersen who'll be here on relay duties and playing the lure.

As City Of Troy will need a pace and will be in trouble if they crawl (note Hans Andersen), then Al Riffa has to come into play as a strong stayer.

Al Riffa the play in Eclipse

He hasn't been campaigned aggressively by any stretch of the imagination and was seen just twice last year as a three-year-old.

In 2024, he appeared in the Ganay - a race over 1m2f and a race in which they didn't go a strong pace which suited those ridden prominently. Al Riffa wasn't beaten far and done remarkably well to finish as close as he did in fourth. For him to finish so near in what essentially was a sprint was a fine effort.

He was last seen running out in America in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Saratoga. As the old saying goes "Adventure and error go together", and that race looked an error as he was in no way quick enough to deal with the speed of rivals at 9f as he does not possess winged boots.

Cheekpieces were applied in America and they remain on Saturday and at 16/117.00, he looks a genuine rival. I like the fact he drifted from 12s on Friday to give us more of a go at an each-way bet, as I feel he'll be strong in the finish in terms of his stamina.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go for the Arc with a good run here. We don't have to worry about the ground as he was a Group 1 winner in the National Stakes on soft and he appears versatile. He's a very sizeable animal too.

He is 4/15.00 with 2 Places on the Sportsbook but the fifth at 16s with three places will do, and I would be surprised if he drifted any further out from 16s.

Now read Daryl Carter's Saturday ITV tips

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