Golden Horn is likely to be long odds-on for the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday after just five horses were left in the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece at the five-day stage.
The Investec Derby hero’s task was made easier when New Bay, the Prix du Jockey Club winner, was not confirmed for the race on Monday after disappointing connections in a piece of work.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah said: “Andre Fabre (trainer) has reported that New Bay did not work well enough this morning to justify going to Sandown for the Eclipse Stakes.
“He will now wait and look at the various other options.”
Golden Horn ‘s already strong claims had been boosted on Saturday evening when the three horses who finished directly behind him at Epsom – stablemate Jack Hobbs, Storm The Stars and Giovanni Canaletto – occupied the first three places in the Irish Derby at the Curragh.
The Cape Cross colt, who bids to become the first Derby winner to follow up against his elders since Sea The Stars in 2009, has been pleasing trainer John Gosden in the build-up to the Eclipse.
“Frankie (Dettori) was thrilled with his work on Saturday morning. He did a lovely seven furlongs on the watered gallop with a good older horse rated 118 and he skipped clear of him,” the Newmarket handler told At The Races.
“He’s in good order and at the moment touch wood he’s going the right way.”
Gosden has also left in Western Hymn, who is a three-times winner over the course and distance.
The four-year-old was third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start and is set to renew rivalry with The Grey Gatsby, who finished two and three-quarter lengths ahead of him in second place when just short-headed by Free Eagle.
The other two possibles are Andrew Balding’s admirable seven-year-old Tullius and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Cougar Mountain.
The latter has yet to tackle further than a mile, having finished a commendable third behind Solow in the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting.
“We will step him up in trip now and he’ll go for the Eclipse,” said O’Brien.
The going at Sandown was described as good, good to firm in places following further watering.
It is getting warmer at the Esher course with clerk of the course Andrew Cooper keeping an eye on the possible threat of thunderstorms towards the end of the week.
“The ground is good in the main. I don’t think there is any risk of thunderstorms as far as we’re concerned until Wednesday at the earliest,” he said.
“It’s here about 25C here today and about 28C or 29C tomorrow.
“It’s very much good ground in the main. We finished a cycle of watering today.
“We are just going to review the situation at lunchtime every day.
“The course is in very good condition, it’s beautiful ground at present. It’s going to be a hot week – whether there is going to be any rain is as yet totally unknown.
“It’s a summer race meeting in dry conditions and should be run on good, fast ground. It’s a two-day meeting and you have to try to weigh up what you are going to do for the second day. It could dry a lot from one day to the next.”