Though once again lacking in quantity, the Coral Eclipse Stakes could yet gain an unexpected depth of quality after Aidan O'Brien said that Sandown on Saturday is "a strong possibility" for Declaration Of War. Originally omitted from the sponsors' betting, when one of three Ballydoyle colts left in the race on Monday, the Queen Anne Stakes winner was introduced as 7-2 second favourite behind Al Kazeem, himself eased from 11-8 to 15-8.
Any bets struck since the acceptance stage will be settled "without" Declaration Of War, whose participation would lavishly redeem the race from a rather tame billing as a rematch between the principals in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. So disappointing in the mile Lockinge Stakes, Declaration Of War made an emphatic Group One breakthrough over that distance when overcoming a troubled passage at Royal Ascot under a dashing ride from Joseph O'Brien. The Eclipse would entail an extra two furlongs, and those largely uphill, but Declaration Of War did win twice over at least 10 furlongs last season, albeit in lesser company.
He would be joined at Sandown by Mars, set to be the only three-year-old in a likely field of seven. Mars could well prove ideally suited by this intermediate distance after hastening from maiden company to shape well when sixth in both the 2,000 Guineas and Derby, before reverting to a mile for third in the St James's Palace Stakes. But Camelot, comfortably held by Al Kazeem on his last two starts, is to be given a summer break. According to the Coolmore website, last year's Derby winner "hasn't really been himself this season, and is going on the easy list for the rest of the month".
Though Mars can be backed at 5-1 for what is traditionally billed as the first elite clash of generations, the three-year-olds seem to be favoured at a mile. Paddy Power, first to chalk up odds for the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, make Dawn Approach 11-10 favourite to confirm his narrow Ascot superiority over Toronado on 15-8. Declaration Of War is 5-1 and his stablemate Magician 8-1. The latter's Irish 2,000 Guineas form has since obtained a very strong look, and he was clearly not himself at Ascot after an interrupted preparation. Certainly, the bookmakers seem to rate the Eclipse a better option for Declaration Of War, whose career must be carefully managed as a son of a rising young stallion in War Front.
Kieren Fallon, who has contrived heartening stability as stable jockey to Luca Cumani since his return from an 18-month ban in 2009, is meanwhile facing another turbulent chapter in his career. His boss's No 1 patron, Sheikh Obaid, has stipulated that Fallon will no longer ride any of the 24 horses he has stabled with Cumani.
Chris Mcgrath's Nap
Mutafaakir (3.50 Haydock) Travels strongly and has duly clicked for the drop back to sprinting for the thriving Ruth Carr stable, just nailed on the line off the same mark at Newcastle the other day.
Snow Hill (2.20 Haydock) Eligible for a drop in grade after slipping down the weights and hinted at a revival on his return in April, while he is still lightly raced for his in-form trainer, Chris Wall.
One to watch
Elusivity (David O'Meara) Remains likely to pop up somewhere soon after his seventh in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot, where arguably stretched by the sixth furlong.
Where the money's going
The South African hope Shea Shea is 5-1 from 6-1 with Victor Chandler for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday week.