2pts win Barney Roy @3/1, 15:35 Sandown, Saturday

We were out of luck last weekend with both tips sustaining injuries, presumably mid-race, with 40/1 Derby winner Wings Of Eagles sadly having been retired after a fracture.

Sandown hosts Saturday’s big race where the three-year-olds clash with the older generation in the Group One Coral-Eclipse, run over the intermediate 10-furlong trip.

Nine have been declared with Classic form well represented, and it’s a quality renewal despite none of the winners of the Derby or Guineas from across Europe taking part.

Cliffs Of Moher drops in trip after just failing to get home in the Derby, and he’s been well backed this week to land his maiden Group One with Ryan Moore a certainty in the saddle.

He’s clearly high-class and will be improving all the time with this just his fifth career start and third of the season, but it’s hard to argue there’s any value in his 2/1 price.

He’s joined by Eminent, who lost his whip and raced too far from the pace when fourth behind Cliffs Of Moher in the Derby, while he lacked the speed to come out on top in the sprint-finish of this year’s 2000 Guineas.

Prior to that he won the Craven Stakes in a very impressive time, beating Benbatl – subsequently 2nd in the Dante, 5th in the Derby and a winner at Royal Ascot – and Rivet, a Group One winner who ran well in the French Classics.

With the Derby excuses, Eminent has very solid form and, though he stays further, there’s a feeling ten furlongs at Sandown on quick ground is going to be perfect for him, should he race prominently and make use of his long stride.

Sandown’s finish is well known as a graveyard for hold-up horses, as it’s so hard to pass horses up the hill and there have been a fair few tactical upsets in this race down the years.

Mukhadram stole the race from the front a few seasons ago when his 150/1 pacemaker came third, so I’m after a horse likely to race prominently.

Eminent’s usual pilot Jim Crowley didn’t only lose his whip in the Derby, he lost the ride on the horse as his New Zealander owner has replaced replaced him with Silvestre de Sousa, whose prominent riding style appears a good fit.

The thing is, Eminent is by Frankel, who is yet to win a Group One in Europe and I’m losing faith in his progeny despite several near misses.

Until Frankel starts to prove he can produce Group One winner – and I don’t doubt Eminent can do it – I’m erring on the side of caution at this level with his sons and daughters.

Eminent also has to reverse that Derby form with Cliffs Of Moher, and with the Coolmore-owned colt expected to improve there aren’t many reasons to expect that.

Crowley won’t be disheartened as he maintains his partnership with Sir Michael Stoute’e regally-bred Ulysses, who, like most of Stoute’s horses in recent seasons, is all potential.

I get very bored of the superlatives aimed at his ability to steadily bring horses along to peak as four- and five-year-olds – when was the last time he trained a Group One winner in Britain?

Ulysses looks like a good horse, backed up by his short-head third to Decorated Knight in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, and he’ll likely have his day in the sun, eventually.

I’m not paying to find out whether that’s Saturday at 8/1, though.

Decorated Knight also has a go here but he’ll need to find improvement to win this, and I’m not sure where that’s supposed to come from.

He looks exposed as a very good horse, but he’ll need to be better than very good to win this unless the three-year-olds turn out to be a rung below their elders.

I can’t see Lightning Spear winning nor Aidan O’Brien’s Taj Mahal, but of the rags 50/1-shot Desert Encounter could outrun his odds.

He’ll have no issues with the trip and the fast ground, and his beating of Barsanti last time out looks much better now that horse ran such a huge race at Royal Ascot – he gave him 3lb last time out, too.

It’s not Group One form by any stretch, but it’s interesting he’s having a go here and his hold-up style of running might disguise his best form.

As mentioned already, I’m not sure that’s ideal for Sandown though.

I’ve left the best ’til last, and that’s Richard Hannon’s BARNEY ROY, who opened his Group One account at Royal Ascot when reversing form with the previously-untouchable 2000 Guineas winner Churchill.

Churchill is the only horse to finish ahead of him in four career starts, and on that occasion Newmarket’s famous dip clearly caught him out.

He still finished second on that occasion, which is high-class form, and his excellent win over seven furlongs in the Greenham Stakes in April also reads very well.

He hits the line hard in his races, taking a while to get going in the style of a horse who will thrive at middle distances.

He’ll be the fastest horse in the Eclipse and will love the ground, so the trip is the only real question mark around his chances and at 3/1 he rates a very good bet.

I’d expect Cliffs Of Moher to do best of the rest and hold the Derby form with Eminent, while the 10lb the older horses have to concede possibly asking too much against what to my eye is a good bunch of three-year-olds.

2pts win Barney Roy @3/1, 15:35 Sandown, Saturday

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