Talking Horses: Underestimated Alenquer can clinch Coral-Eclipse

Five of the six runners in a fascinating renewal of the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park on Saturday have at least one Group One win in the form book already, and it is a big boost for the first all-aged Group One of the season that Vadeni, the French Derby winner, was supplemented to the field earlier this week.

Christophe Soumillon kicked off the celebrations some way out at Chantilly and a mixture of proven form at the trip and his scope for improvement means Vadeni looks a better bet than Native Trail, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner and the other three-year-old in the race.

The older horses will put up stiff resistance, however, and not for the first time, Alenquer (3.35) seems to have been seriously underestimated in the betting.

William Haggas’s colt has been progressing steadily ever since his win in the Classic Trial – over this track and trip and with the subsequent Derby winner in second – in April 2021, and got his first Group One on the board in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last month.

There is no reason to think he has stopped improving yet and at around 8-1, he is an attractive bet to keep the Classic generation at bay.

Sandown Park 1.50 Raasel put up a new career-best to win a Listed event at Haydock Park last time out and could make a further step up to Group company here.

Haydock Park 2.05 Harry Davies could make the difference on Valsad, who was staying on again near the finish at Goodwood last time and should appreciate the step up in trip.

Sandown Park 2.25 Darkness is slowly edging down the weights and another 2lb drop could get him over the line.

Haydock Park 2.40 On the face of it, Eshaada was a little disappointing at Newbury last time but she had a big penalty for her Group One win at Ascot in October and probably needed the race too. A return to racing against her own sex could well be the answer.

Sandown Park 3.00 Hard to see past the unbeaten Heredia here as the impressive Sandringham Handicap winner at Royal Ascot steps up to Listed company.

Haydock Park 3.15 Gaassee has made short work of his last two handicaps but is up another 7lb now and Liverpool Knight could give him plenty to think about. He showed improved form on his debut for Kevin Philippart de Foy at Windsor last month, showing a useful turn of foot on the good-to-soft ground which could be decisive here.