Racing: Powerscourt offers Eclipse value

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The Independent Online

The Eclipse Stakes 12 months ago was won by Falbrav, who used the Sandown race as the propulsion that took him on a romp through some of the globe's top contests. It is quite possible that another of his ilk lies in this afternoon's 13-strong renewal. It is just a question of picking the right one.

The Eclipse Stakes 12 months ago was won by Falbrav, who used the Sandown race as the propulsion that took him on a romp through some of the globe's top contests. It is quite possible that another of his ilk lies in this afternoon's 13-strong renewal. It is just a question of picking the right one.

Could it be Rakti, the Royal Ascot winner who chased home Falbrav in Hong Kong as last season was flickering? Certainly he will be the favourite. Others in the list as potential improvers as older horses include Refuse To Bend, Powerscourt and Ikhtyar.

First though we must discuss Rakti, who will have a talented pacemaker in the shape of stablemate Maktub to do the early dirty work for him. The Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner has many factors in his favour, and probably only the one against, the fact that he has enjoyed an unusually short recuperation since his last race.

"It is a bit of a concern but I'm not overly worried about it," Michael Jarvis, the trainer, said yesterday. "If the horse had been showing signs of fatigue and had not been fresh enough to run he wouldn't be taking his chance.

"Big races do take a bit out of them and they do need a certain amount of time to recover, but he's shown me that he's all right. I'm very happy with him."

Refuse To Bend, another Royal Ascot winner, now steps up to 10 furlongs and is reported to be flying on the Newmarket gallops. He is not, however, a horse who has built a career on consistency.

Ikhytar was third to Rakti in Berkshire and the mere fact he reopposes means hope has not been extinguished in the camp. "I know Richard Hills [the jockey] thought at the time he could probably have been second," Angus Gold, the racing manager to Ikhtyar's owner, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said yesterday. "The favourite is a tremendously good horse, Refuse To Bend won well at Ascot and it's an Eclipse so it's a tough race."

Hills himself added: "He ran an exceptional race in the Prince Of Wales's. This horse is progressing so I think he's got a good each-way chance. This horse is starting to build and each race he is getting better and better. I think he's a horse who has got a future."

Yet if Ikhytar must go well, then so should the Ascot runner-up, Powerscourt, at an unusually generous price for a sole Aidan O'Brien representative. The four-year-old will be at value odds because Ballydoyle has been firing largely blanks this season (Powerscourt is, in fact, their only Group One winner). With guaranteed pace in the race and the Sandown hill to conquer, Powerscourt (nap 3.15) is the one to be on.

Sandown's valuable handicap is tricky but best left to Unshakable (2.40), while the Haydock equivalent is the Old Newton Cup, which, history tells us, might contain a subsequent Pattern horse. The one that might be tucked away, down at the bottom of the weights is Swagger Stick (next best 2.55), one of only two three-year-olds in the race and a horse which ran most admirably at Royal Ascot considering the firm ground was all against him.

The easier going also provides the clue for the Lancashire Oaks, in which Summitville is likely to struggle on the ground. That should provide an opening for a serial runner-up, albeit against quality fillies, in Sahool (1.50).

Crocodile Dundee took the feature contest at Sandown yesterday with a battling performance in the Champagne J Lasalle Imported By O W Loeb Gala Stakes.

He and John Egan got the best of some determined opponents to gradually wear down favourite Sunstrach and Silence Is Golden close home to land odds of 7-1.

His trainer, Jamie Poulton, will now aim Crocodile Dundee at the Group Three Scandinavian Open Championship at Klampenborg on 1 August.

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