John Gosden expects tomorrow’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown to bring Dar Re Mi to her peak.
This will be the first time Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mare has competed on the racecourse since claiming the Dubai Sheema Classic at the end of March.
Gosden felt she had endured a demanding campaign in the latter half of 2009, which saw her win the Yorkshire Oaks, get controversially demoted from victory in the Prix Vermeille, finish fifth to Sea The Stars in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and then third to Conduit in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Fresh from a break, Dar Re Mi returns over 10 furlongs for the first time since landing the Pretty Polly Stakes last June and faces just five rivals in the Esher course’s annual highlight.
“Obviously she had the run in the Breeders’ Cup and then didn’t have a lot of time off until we brought her back in January to get her ready for the Dubai Sheema Classic,” said Gosden.
“It was a pretty short holiday and so she has had a much longer holiday before this race.
“It’s her first run back, so it will put her spot-on, I’d say.
“She’s in good form and although it’s over 10 furlongs, this was the obvious first target.
“We were considering the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud but I didn’t want her to travel all the way to France at the moment.
“If she ran a nice race then I’d imagine the King George back over a mile and a half would be the next one to look at.”
There are several issues for Gosden to be concerned about and he continued: “There doesn’t look like there’s a lot of pace. We would like an even gallop and she might even make the gallop herself.
“Like most horses, she would be better on good ground. It’s unusual that the whole of Wimbledon has passed by without a drop of rain and it looks like that will be the case.
“But although she would prefer it to be good, she has won on good to firm before.”
Simon Marsh, racing manager for the Lloyd Webber family, confirmed the musical guru would be present at Sandown.
Contesting favouritism with Dar Re Mi is Henry Cecil’s Twice Over, who finished a long way behind Sea The Stars 12 months ago.
But Twice Over went on to win the Champion Stakes and take third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and could have been counted a slightly unfortunate loser in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot as he encountered traffic problems before flashing home to finish a narrow second to Byword.
“The Eclipse on Saturday will be interesting as Twice Over seems in very good form,” said the trainer.
“Personally, I thought he was a little unlucky at Ascot as he got pushed a bit far back and had nowhere to go.
“I hope at Sandown he has a clear run and that there are no excuses.”
Jockey Tom Queally shares Cecil’s beliefs from the Royal meeting.
“Henry and I were disappointed afterwards as we both thought we could have won,” he told his blog on www.racinguk.com.
“As I’ve said before we wouldn’t be afraid of taking on the winner Byword again.
“The opposition here doesn’t include Byword and there are a few question marks over them.
“Zacinto might struggle to stay the trip up the Sandown hill, Dar Re Mi hasn’t run since Dubai, where she had a hard race and hopefully we have Mawatheeq covered after beating him in the Champion Stakes last year.
“It’s only a small field so there should be no hard luck stories, and even if they do go a touch slow up front it won’t affect us, and we’ll never be more than four lengths off the pace.”
Mawatheeq was well beaten in the same race but that was his first run since an injury after his second-placed finish in the Champion Stakes.
“We just have to hope he’s come on as much as we think he has. Tadhg O’Shea rides him in his work and he thinks he’s come on quite a bit since Ascot,” said trainer Marcus Tregoning.
“If the ground stays dry and we don’t get all this rain which is possibly forecast, he should run well.
“I’m sure the pace will be fine for him as he’s won over 12 furlongs before, so we don’t have any worries about him staying.”