Monday 11 December 2017

Generation Game

Three-year-olds stepping up to take on older brigade in Eclipse

Verrazano with Joseph O'Brien. Picture: Patrick McCann/RACING POST
Verrazano with Joseph O'Brien. Picture: Patrick McCann/RACING POST

THE legendary Sea The Stars was the last three-year-old to triumph in the Coral Eclipse and some good ones have since tried as it is widely renowned as the first opportunity for the three-year-old crop to take on the older generation.

Declarations for the race feature a field of 11, five of which are three-year-olds, one of which is a Classic winner this season, another was an Epsom Derby runner-up just last month and we also have a Derby Trial winner and a Ballydoyle-trained Royal Ascot winning two-year-old who spent the winter as a leading 2,000 Guineas fancy.

And if you think the Classic generation have a bit to offer in tomorrow's race, just look at the older brigade.

It could well be a case of 'ladies first' or lady at least, as the Fugue heads the charge following her memorable Royal Ascot win in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes - a race that marked her fourth at Group One level, which is not bad from six career wins in total. She is quite simply some mare.

It would be silly to go any further in this article without highlighting Ballydoyle's older representative. War Command fully warranted his mention earlier in the piece, but the three-year-old is undoubtedly Aidan O'Brien's second string tomorrow. Many, including yours truly, have referred to O'Brien's difficult season to date, but in the same breath you have to reiterate how every trainer would love to be having a similar season.

Ballydoyle can sometimes just be a victim of it's own very high standards.

The cough that had the Ballydoyle machine spluttering seems to be clearing, as was emphasised last week on Derby weekend when O'Brien was responsible for nine winners over the three days. A win for American import Verrazano (pictured) tomorrow would be no surprise.

Two previous attempts at 10-furlongs have dented Verrazano's reputation but few could question Aidan O'Brien's.

Jim Bolger won't remember 2014 as a vintage year either, but he doesn't need to go to Sandown for fresh air and Trading Leather, running above his possibly insulting price of 20/1, is a possible on his second start of the campaign. And the Coolcullen team have been gracing many a winners' enclosure recently.

Less than a week after the Irish Derby received such criticism for its lack of strength and depth, we will sit down tomorrow to enjoy a fascinating Group One contest that, barring biblical interference, should almost define the word competitive.

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