Some of the world’s leading middle-distance racehorses will clash in Saturday’s (3 July) historic G1 Eclipse Stakes (1990m) at Sandown, the centrepiece of an eight-race simulcast programme. It is a small field and with no obvious gate speed and one can expect an intriguing tactical encounter with victory ultimately expected to come from one of three well-travelled equine stars – Mishriff, Addeybb or St Mark’s Basilica.
Mishriff’s ‘under the radar’ profile ended abruptly in February when his determined surge up the King Abdulaziz straight resulted in triumph in the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup (dirt, 1800m). Later the following month he returned to a turf surface and moved up to 2410m but with the same outcome – a power-packed victory in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, his nearest victim that day being Japan’s Chrono Genesis, who added yet more sparkle to Mishriff’s performance by stylishly winning last Sunday’s G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) in Hanshin.
“That win by Chrono Genesis helps with our confidence, and Mishriff did a good piece of work at Newmarket last Saturday (26 June) so it’s fingers crossed.” said Ted Voute – racing manager to owner Prince Faisal – of the John and Thady Gosden trained son of Make Believe, who will be partnered again by David Egan.
Gosden Snr has won the Eclipse four times, and his near Newmarket neighbour – Addeybb’s trainer William Haggas – boasts one win in an event that was once Britain’s most valuable horse race. It took a while before Addeybb revealed he was a champion with 16 career starts before the son of Pivotal won his first G1, but his expanding achievements since include him becoming the first northern hemisphere-trained horse to win three G1s in Australia.
That accolade came after his second victory in Randwick’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), in April on his last start. “He needs to run again now, and on Saturday we want the soft ground that he loves,” says his trainer who may well have his wish granted after plenty of rain in the Sandown area this week.
Rider Tom Marquand, currently a close third in the UK jockeys’ title race, continually praises Addeybb’s appetite for a fight: “If ever there was a horse to have at the 200 metres in a scrap, it’s him, ” the jockey says of the gelding who also notched a domestic G1 with victory in Ascot’s Champion Stakes (1993m) last October.
Mishriff is four and Addeybb is seven, but three-year-old’s have won this clash of the generations three times in the past six years and if the younger guys are to strike again, Aidan O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica must surely be the one to do it. He has now won three consecutive G1s, with the imposing Irish-trained son of Siyouni this season plundering two G1 French Classics – the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (1600m) at Longchamp and then again showing terrific acceleration to win the Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly.
O’Brien says of the colt who could start favourite for Saturday’s feature: “The (Prix du) Jockey Club is a very difficult race to win,” adding: “But St Mark’s Basilica showed his quality again that day. He is relaxed, he travels easily and he quickens very well.”