Classic heroes Vadeni and Native Trail are among six runners declared for a fascinating renewal of the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s Vadeni is a hot favourite for the midsummer showpiece following a brilliant display in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly at the start of June.
The Churchill colt, who will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon, is bidding to become the first French-trained winner of the Eclipse since Javelot in 1960.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Native Trail needs no introduction, having carried all before him as Europe’s champion juvenile last season.
He maintained his unbeaten record on his return to action in Newmarket’s Craven Stakes – and while he found stablemate Coroebus too strong in the 2000 Guineas, he went one better in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh and tests the water over a mile and a quarter for the first time this weekend.
The older brigade is headed by Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge, who looked every inch a top-class performer in the making when winning the Brigadier Gerard Stakes over this course and distance in May.
He was a warm order to successfully graduate to Group One level in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, but odds-on backers had their fingers burnt as he was beaten a length by State Of Rest.
James Wigan co-owns Bay Bridge with Ballylinch Stud and slightly wonders if Ascot could have turned out differently.
He said ahead of a race that forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series: “Bay Bridge came back from Ascot bouncing and seems to be in rude health. I think the winner there was very cleverly ridden and stole a march on the others.
“I’m not saying we would have won if the race had been run differently, but he was beaten only a length and was still inching closer at the finish. If the race was run again I think we could have been closer still.
“It’s probably the best Eclipse we’ve seen for a while, but he seemed to enjoy Sandown when he won the Brigadier Gerard.”
John Gosden fires a twin assault, with Mishriff and Lord North both declared.
The globetrotting Mishriff was third in last year’s Eclipse, but needs to bounce back from a disappointing defence of his crown in the Saudi Cup, while James Doyle takes over from Frankie Dettori aboard Lord North, who was last of five in the Prince of Wales’s.
The small but select field is completed by another Group One winner in the William Haggas-trained Alenquer, who was last seen toughing out victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.