Brendan Duke: Enable will win the Eclipse – I’m looking for value elsewhere

Dukey also fancies taking on Too Darn Hot on Sunday

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Been on the dogsitting beat this week. The life of a freelancer. I’d follow my lance over a cliff. The dog is a Golden Retriever. Mind you, trade descriptions would be entitled to have a word. Like getting in at the wrong end of a pyramid scheme, nothing comes back with this hound.

An unscheduled visit to the vet has proved the only wrinkle so far. As well as being the anti-retriever, this dog brings to mind a Ricky Gervais quip about the French. He’ll eat anything, except clorets. The vet wasn’t surprised to see me. The dog has an annual membership. I brought the remnants of something rubber that had been massacred out the back garden.

This seemed to be causing the loudest indigestion I’ve ever heard. No panic from the vet. It seems he gets plenty of omnivorous pooches. He appears to be on the road to recovery. I’m still a bit tender myself. A shocking dose of seconditis last weekend means a winner would be unusually welcome.

The Eclipse (Sandown 3.35, Saturday) tops the bill this weekend. This race has a lovely each-way feel to it. Eight runner races with a short priced favourite are manna to the punters. Unfortunately, I think that short priced favourite will win. Enable returns to action. She missed Royal Ascot but that wasn’t fitness related. Despite going unbeaten last season, the belief that she was never at her best is hard to shake

While connections will be working backwards from the Arc, the Eclipse is one of the sport’s crown jewels. I expect her to put up a performance in line with her best form. If that proves the case, none of the opposition possess the tools to cope. I don’t like betting odds-on. I also don’t like having an each-way bet on a selection I can’t see winning. I’m looking forward to the race but will keep my powder dry.

The best bet on Saturday looks to be First Eleven in the Old Newton Cup (3.15 pm) at Haydock. Paddy are well aware of this horse. He’s a 10/3 jolly in a 17 runner handicap. That price probably still underestimates his chance. This looks a case of a group horse in a handicap. He’s still relatively lightly raced.

In beating the progressive Fujaira Prince on comeback, he put in a career best effort. A five pound hike in the weights doesn’t look excessive. Fujaira Prince gave the form a reasonable boost at Royal Ascot. The only nagging concern is that First Eleven has a wide draw. He’s a tactically versatile sort though. He should be able to take a handy position, just off the rail. He enjoys a significant class edge in the race. I fully expect it to count.

Another horse to enjoy a class edge, albeit at a lowly level, is Shore Step in the 2.45 pm at Naas. This horse has generally run okay this season. Marks in the high 70s have just proven a bit much. The handicapper has relented, and the horse gets to race off 70 tomorrow. Perhaps more significantly, he gets to do so in a race for horses rated between 45 and 70. The drop in class can see him return to the winners enclosure.

The jockey has yet to ride a winner. This horse is a very straightforward ride though. He doesn’t face much competition for the lead either. Expect him to pop out in front from a favourable draw. He should prove hard to pass. The big field, coupled with a below par run last time out means we should get reasonable odds of return.

The Prix Jean Prat (2.52 pm, Deauville) on Sunday, sees the latest attempt by Too Darn Hot to get back to winning ways. It doesn’t look a strong race for the grade. He’s a short price though and I will look to take him on. There were whispers about possible temperament issues manifesting themselves in Too Darn Hot’s homework. Royal Ascot was the clearest indication that those rumours may have some foundation.

To my eye, he refused to run through the pain barrier. Munitions fits the bill as an each way alternative. This horse put in a gutsy effort to win on seasonal bow. That form has substance. He failed to back that up on deep ground in the French Guineas. As a son of War Front, that run is probably best forgiven. We will be getting a double figure price. That’s enough to tempt me.


It’s fairly humdrum fare on Sunday. There’s a winner in every race, mind.

Latin Five (1.20 pm) should be winning at Limerick. He didn’t cope with the drop in trip on second start at the Curragh. That form would still make him hard to beat here. He should improve plenty for the step up in trip on Sunday.

Also at Limerick, Fit For Function (2.25 pm) is hard to oppose. He has the perfect draw, and meets largely out of form rivals. A repeat of any of his recent efforts should suffice. Both horses will head the betting.

Find a full range of racing odds over on

What do you think?