Coral Eclipse 2013: Preview Trends Tips
The weekend starts here, and what a weekend of sport we've got. As well as the Wimbledon tennis finals, there's a pair of beastly Pyrenean mountain stages in the Tour de France and, closer to this blog's heart, there is the Coral Eclipse at Sandown Park.
It's that latter event which is the key focus of this post, as we look through the trends and form of the first big meeting of the ages, with the Classic generation three year olds taking on their elders in a Group 1.
In truth, though still a compelling race, the presence of just one Classic generation nag - Mars - does rather load the dice in favour of the older guard, but Mars himself is a talented and improving beast that might prove ideally suited by this ten furlong test.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, though: let's first look at the history book and see what it tells us.
Coral Eclipse 2013 Trends
The obvious place to start is with age, and the age trends tell us that in the last sixteen years, the winners were evenly spread between three- (five wins), four- (six wins), and five-year-olds (five wins). The strike rates favour the oldest group, then the youngest group, with four-year-olds the most represented age.
Backing three-year-olds blindly over that period since 1997 would have yielded a profit of 8.10 on 38 bets.
Looking at recent form, and especially class, reveals an interesting thing. Of those 38 3yo's, only 26 ran in a Group 1 last time. All five winners of that age were among that score and six runners. Moreover, ten of the twelve placed horses were also in the Group 1 last time out subset. Backing them to win for a level stake would have returned 20.1 units for a 26 unit outlay. Betting eachway above 5/1 improved the return to 27.7 units albeit from twice the stake (one point win, one point place).
The figures for these runners finishing in the top three last time improve to four winners from fourteen runners.
The dozen runners at Group 2 or below the last day yielded no winners and just two places.
Mars is a three-year-old which ran third in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes last time. He fits the profile of a three-year-old winner well.
Going back to the all ages superset, let's look at some factors relating to last time out performance.
Fifteen of the last sixteen winners ran at Royal Ascot (twelve) or Epsom (three) last time. The one that didn't ran at (Royal Ascot at) York the year the meeting was moved due to renovations.
Five winners were stepping up from a mile (from 29 to try); seven winners were running over this trip last time as well (from 50); and four were cutting back from a mile and a half (from 35).
Thirteen of the sixteen winners, and 26 of the 42 placed horses, ran in a Group 1 last time. The remaining three winners since 1997, and seven of the remaining sixteen placed horses, ran in a Group 2 last time. All 28 runners to have contested Group 3 or below last time out were beaten. Alas, that's not too helpful as all of these ran in a Group 1 the last day.
All bar one of the winners since 1997 finished in the top five last time out, but only four won. Look for a good finish last time, but not necessarily a win.
And all bar two winners since 1997 had run between sixteen and thirty days ago. They show a good level stakes profit as well, of 17.65 units.
From a trends perspective, then, we'd be looking for a Group 1 performer which finished in the top five last time; ran at Royal Ascot or Epsom between 16 and 30 days ago; and was aged three to five.
That removes just Pastorius, and leaves us with the rest of the field!
Coral Eclipse 2013 Form Preview
OK, so we're not really any further forward, with pretty much the entire field having strong profiles for the race. So let's look in the form book for pointers.
Al Kazeem is favourite at a top priced 15/8. He won the Prince Of Wales's Stakes over ten furlongs last time at Royal Ascot, and has won his last four, the last two in Group 1 company. During that run he's beaten Mukhadram, The Fugue, and Miblish, all of which re-oppose here.
The one that got closest last time was Mukhadram, but he surely benefited from a most enterprising ride by Paul Hanagan to nearly steal the race from the front. Al Kazeem should probably be marked up for his ability to chase down the leader and assert close home, over a trip which seems to be a minimum for him these days. In Mukhadram's favour, he has won over course and distance when making all in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, a Group 3. But so has Al Kazeem: he won the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes on his seasonal bow, beating subsequent Royal Ascot winner, Thomas Chippendale, that day.
Miblish actually ran a blinder in fifth there - a personal best most likely - but that was still only good enough for a five length-plus beating. He will probably run with credit again, but he surely won't be up to beating these.
And then there's The Fugue. She was making her first start of the year when running on into third behind Al Kazeem and Mukhadram, and she must surely come on for that. This mile and a quarter trip is the optimum for her, and she gets a small mares' allowance too. Assuming the exaggerated waiting tactics of the last day are not re-deployed against a likely lone pace angle in Mukhadram, she might be the one to take down Al Kazeem. She's certainly the one I'd want to side with - if any - from the vanquished group in Al K's Prince Of Wales's Stakes win.
Two which took different routes at Royal Ascot, with varying degrees of success, were Mars and Declaration of War, both from the Aidan O'Brien stable. The former has been mentioned in statistical despatches above, and his form profile is pretty interesting. He has always been highly regarded by connections - who know a good horse when they see one - and was outpaced before running on into sixth in the 2000 Guineas over a mile.
He was then outstayed when sixth - beaten just under four lengths - in the Derby at Epsom. And finally, he ran a very fair third in the St James's Palace Stakes behind Dawn Approach and Toronado, less than three lengths back.
So, in summary, Mars has won a Dundalk maiden... and that's it! And yet, in running a Racing Post Rating of 121 last time, against Al Kazeem's top of 124, he has little to find, and is the least exposed of the field. This first try at a mile and a quarter - notwithstanding that it's in very high class indeed - could be optimal, and the biggest punt is that the three year olds of this year may actually be better than those of last year. In my well known opinion, last year's Classic crop were dreadful, meaning that - on the face of it, at least - Mars would have Al Kazeem to beat.
That's actually a bit one dimensional, given that neither Mukhadram nor Declaration of War ran in the Classics; and The Fugue ran competitively against her elders in her last four starts.
Declaration Of War remains a dark horse. He was so heavily backed when flopping in the Lockinge, and then was well backed again when winning the Queen Anne Stakes. He has run over this sort of trip twice, winning both times, but under very different conditions. The first was a ten furlong heavy ground minor stakes race at the Curragh; the second was an eleven furlong Group 3 on the all weather at Dundalk.
So we know he stays, but whether he stays this far in a true run Group 1, is another question. He might do, but at the prices - currently 4/1 top - I'd not want to bet it.
Pastorius is high class, but a bit in and out and, while it's easy enough to forgive his run in the Singapore Cup at Kranji last time, there are so many that have solid credentials that he's little value.
And therein lies the problem really: the market has this spot on in my opinion, and pretty much makes it a no bet race.
Coral Eclipse 2013 Tips
As I say, it's hard to nominate a bet here because there doesn't seem to be any value left. The most likely winner has to be Al Kazeem, who is still improving, is proven over the course and distance, has beaten plenty of these and is on a nice unbeaten roll. But 15/8 is tight. I'd be interested at 5/2 perhaps if he drifted on the day.
The Fugue looks very likely to run into the frame again at least, but she too is priced up accordingly. A best priced 9/2, with only two places to go at due to the seven runner field, is unattractive.
Mars at 11/2 might be worth a tiny tickle, win only. He's got an upward profile and I was quite taken with his run last time out, having been a bit of a knocker before then. By the same token, Declaration Of War has a chance, but he's too short at 4/1 tops.
Yes, there's not an iota of value at the current prices. But I'd be prepared to back any of the four above at slightly bigger than their current odds, and there's a good chance that will be the case come Saturday afternoon.
Specifically, I'd be interested in Al Kazeem at 5/2 or better; The Fugue at 11/2; Mars is mildly interesting at his current 11/2; and Declaration Of War at 5/1+.
Coral Eclipse 1-2-3: Al Kazeem; The Fugue; Mars
In other news, it's been a great start for the Geegeez Tipping League, with some inspired performances in the early days. Of course, it's a monthly marathon not a weekly sprint, so there's plenty of time to a) catch up if you're behind currently; b) fall behind if you're ahead currently (!); and c) join up and get cracking if you've yet to register.
To get involved, follow the simple instructions here.
I should add that I'm lurking in seventh place at this early stage, from the 162 current entries, but I expect that to change for the worse in the not too distant future!!!
One other thing to mention today is that a number of you have been in touch to say that there's been a problem with the various tipping pages showing out of date content. I suspect - though I cannot easily prove it - that this was caused by a 'caching' plugin I was using on the site. In English, that's a little bit of software which speeds up the page load time by remembering what was on the page the last time you came. Of course, if what was there has now changed, and it's not finding the new stuff, then that's pretty useless. So the plugin has gone and, I hope, so too has the issue. Pages might be slightly slower to load as a consequence though, alas.
Anyway, enough of my latest round of technical woes. Do have a look around the site and familiarize yourself with some of the new content.
All of this is in your top menu, and we're working hard behind the scenes to add extra functionality to them to make them much more usable and helpful.
Just thought I'd mention it!
Have a great day,