The Duke’s Weekend Preview

Penalty shootouts are exhausting aren’t they? Every time a player steps up to the ball, even if you are watching as a neutral, you feel a bit tense. If you’re a fan of either team it’s excruciating. Close your eyes and imagine walking up to take one of those spot kicks. Nerves, excitement, pressure.

Those feelings will be experienced this weekend when the jockeys sit in the starting stalls on board their magnificent equine mounts for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. The big races always draw the most attention and these are the ones that every rider wants to have a decent chance in.

Cue William Buick on Masar. The 6/4 favourite after his Derby heroics, is well fancied to score at the Esher venue, despite a drop back in trip to 1m2f. Ulysses attempts to become only the sixth horse in history to win the race back-to-back. He’s an outsider to do so. In the past half a century, 33 winners have been four years or older. However, it is worth noting far fewer three year olds have contested many of those races, so the stats are somewhat skewed.

Saxon Warrior is a danger to the favourite for sure, if he can find the sort of effort that saw him win the Guineas. The drop back in trip could well help and there’s a gut feeling that Aidan O’Brien would not be sending him out again so quickly unless he felt there was a bigger performance than he showed in the Irish Derby. Roaring Lion should also be thereabouts and is another who might appreciate this slightly more conventional track. I can see a close finish in this one, it would not surprise me to see three of the best of the Classic generation fighting it out up the finish at Sandown.

Of the other races, Muthmir is a worthy favourite for the Coral Charge. William Haggas’ seasoned campaigner comes into this with winning form at Haydock. Beverley conditions winner Judicial is one to keep on the right side  while at longer odds Richard Fahey’s solid handicapper Mr Lupton is overdue a win in this higher grade.

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