So You Think limps out of farewell Eclipse to leave Farhh as favourite
Typical. Having finally started to win over those who were treating his career in the northern hemisphere as an anti-climax, So You Think yesterday let them down once and for all. As ever, it was through no fault of his own.
Hot favourite to win the Coral Eclipse Stakes for the second year running, at Sandown tomorrow, So You Think was found to be lame shortly before final declarations were made. His imminent repatriation to begin a stud career in Australia – where he first made his name – means that we have now seen the last of the big horse.
In the event, then, his parting shot has turned out to be that success in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. That day Aidan O'Brien, who took custody of So You Think after his patrons at Coolmore bought a controlling interest late in 2010, seemed at embarrassing pains to reproach himself for being slow to adjust to the imported champion's needs.
"I'd like to say sorry to all the Australian people that I've made such a mess of it for so long," he said. Only now could So You Think show why he had been preceded from Australia by such extravagant billing, was the message.
Yet Timeform gave his performance almost exactly the same rating as those he had achieved in two starts over course and distance last year – when run down late by Rewilding at the royal meeting, and when narrowly outgunned by Cirrus Des Aigles in the Champion Stakes. The reality is that So You Think's record here does not require any exoneration, of horse or trainer.
He established himself as top class, tough and reliable. Yes, he was beaten in five of his 10 Group One starts from Ballydoyle, but these reverses were hardly mystifying or disgraceful. One was on dirt; another on a synthetic surface, after a long lay-off; another when left with an impossible task in the Arc, dropped right out from a wide draw. And the other two might legitimately be treated as evidence that Australian racing is rather less competitive over middle distances than, say, in sprints. Its chronic lack of depth at the staying end of the spectrum, as established in recent Melbourne Cups, does not exactly discourage that suspicion.
In his absence, the sponsors make Farhh 9-4 favourite to seal his status as an emerging force for Godolphin, having suffered his first defeat when third to So You Think at Ascot, and then only after a very troubled run.
Saeed bin Suroor, Farhh's trainer, has somewhat forfeited his seniority at Godolphin since the successful promotion of his former assistant, Mahmood al Zarooni, to supervise his own yard. But the latter – who tomorrow saddles his Dubai World Cup winner, Monterosso, in the Eclipse – faces an embarrassing British Horseracing Authority inquiry next month after two of his runners at Newmarket were yesterday revealed to have tested positive to a prohibited pain-killer, propoxyphene.
The horses in question are Mariner's Cross, after his success at the Craven meeting in April, and Lyric Of Light, when tailed off in the 1,000 Guineas.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Violent Velocity (6.30 Beverley) Reliable old soldier has won twice this season when dropped in grade and, equal to all going, should prove too good for these platers.
Jocasta Dawn (3.45 Warwick) Looked well treated going into handicaps at Sandown last time where her late rally justifies return to a sixth furlong.
Where the money's going
Nathaniel is 100-30 from 7-2 with William Hill for tomorrow's Coral Eclipse Stakes.
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