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It was billed as the race of the season. The Coral-Eclipse Stakes was set to be the clash between the cream of the classic generation, Shamardal and Motivator, sons of new super sires Giant’s Causeway and Montjeu, the French and English Derby winners and was a truly mouthwatering prospect.

Shamardal’s cruel injury has robbed a near sell out crowd at Sandown of what might have been an epic battle and is a stark reminder of the fragility of the breed. Motivator’s odds, already cramped, are now as short as 2/5.

The bookies think the race will be a procession. The statistics bores will argue they are wrong. No horse has done the English Derby/ Eclipse double since the mighty Nashwan in 1989. Erhaab was sent off at a 4/6 in 1994 and didn’t even place. But stats should be used as a tool that helps frame decisions, not a gospel to follow blindly. If anyone doubts the merits of Motivator they should replay the Derby tape.

Motivator did more than just win that day. He annihilated the field in a manner not seen since Shergar. He could be called the winner rounding Tattenham Corner. The form has taken a few knocks since but the way Motivator traveled effortlessly up with the pace and then quickened away from his pursuers was a display out of the very top drawer.

The bookies make Aussie-raider Starcraft the biggest threat, but Motivator can treat him the sort of contempt cricket’s Kevin Pietersen showed for Jason Gillespie two weeks ago at Bristol. Coupling Motivator with an outsider in a forecast might be the best way to extract some value from the race and Diamond Green fits the bill if he runs up to his best form.

Earlier on Sandown’s card the relatively unexposed Golden Island is chanced in the totescoop6 Stakes. She is just short of listed class, has her favoured ground and gets in to this handicap at a light-weight. In the opener Boogie Street is fancied to repel Resplendent Glory. Though the latter is unbeaten this season it is his first run in Group company.


2:05 Sandown Boogie Street (win)

2:35 Sandown Golden Island (each-way)

3:15 Sandown Motivator (win)

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