IF there is one person you would like to have a chat with about who will win the prestigious Eclipse Stakes at Sandown tomorrow, then it must surely be Ryan Moore. The Brighton-born jockey has won on all of the three leading protagonists for this greatly anticipated mile-and-a-quarter contest, amongst whom is last year’s Derby winner Workforce who Moore will ride for his boss Sir Michael Stoute.
His retainer with the Newmarket trainer meant he never had the opportunity to consider continuing his riding associations (at least in this event) with either So You Think or Snow Fairy, but it is unlikely Ryan would have deserted the horse who gave him such success last season anyway.
Workforce has not received the accolades one might expect of a horse who has won a Derby in record time and an Arc in the same season, but for Moore he will always command great respect as the horse who gave him breakthrough wins in the two biggest events in the European Flat Racing calendar.
Prior to tomorrow’s attempt to add to that roll call of success, Workforce was victorious on his seasonal reappearance and everybody connected with him has been complimentary about how well the horse has matured physically over the winter.
His trainer was always keen to emphasise that the horse was still quite immature as a three year old so with the physical development having apparently materialised it would be realistic to believe that the Workforce we see across the course of this campaign will be an improved, more powerful version of last year’s model.
However, he will have to bring his A game if he is to see off the challenges of So You Think and Snow Fairy.
The latter gave Ryan his first Classic win in last year’s renewal of the Oaks and has subsequently landed major events around the world.
Her abilities are also possibly somewhat undervalued in this country and a realistic argument can be constructed that suggests she is the value as the market shapes up for tomorrow’s contest.
So You Think had an enormous reputation to uphold when he arrived at Royal Ascot a couple of weeks ago.
On that occasion, all looked to be going according to plan as he stretched clear off the home bend but he was paddling in the final half furlong and was run down by a horse who, whilst undoubtedly talented, had previously had his limitations exposed.
So You Think had excuses put forward by his mercurial trainer Aidan O’Brien post race which surrounded his fitness. I am loathe to question the supreme O’Brien, but when was the last time he sent out a horse at any major event that was half baked?
I think at this time it is best to take the form as it reads on the page and, on that assumption, Workforce and Snow Fairy will be tough nuts for So You Think to crack.
The fates may have played in Ryan Moore’s favour by putting him in the Workforce camp and I fully expect the combination to add to their reputation and consolidate their position at the head of the market for the Arc in October.
That confidence may not make him an investment opportunity at the current price but as the money keeps piling in for So You Think (and many will take their cue from that) there could be some value floating around on the day.
If Snow Fairy does take her place after yesterday’s planned work out, she will be the each-way value in an eight-runner race.