Eclipse twice as nice for Cecil

Eclipse twice as nice for Cecil

Twice Over bridged a 32-year gap for 10-times champion trainer Henry Cecil as he provided the legend of the Turf with a fourth Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

The master of Warren Place has seen the likes of Reference Point and Bosra Sham denied in the mile-and-a-quarter Group One during the intervening period, but returned to the winner's enclosure as Tom Queally struck aboard the well-backed 13-8 favourite.

With Mawatheeq refusing to enter the stalls meaning just five runners faced the starter, the lack of pace was an obvious concern.

William Buick was keen to set a decent gallop on John Gosden's Dar Ri Me but the Dubai Sheema Classic winner found Twice Over whizzing past with nearly a mile to run.

Queally dictated matters from thereon and after opening a three-length advantage at one stage his five-year-old mount - who lost one of his stick-on shoes during the race - idled towards the line and found Sri Putra closing to within half a length.

Aidan O'Brien's Viscount Nelson was the same distance adrift in third with Dar Ri Me fourth and Sir Michael Stoute's Zacinto a distant last of the quintet.

Although Twice Over could finish no better than seventh of 10 runners behind Sea The Stars in the Eclipse last year, Cecil rejuvenated him later in the campaign and he claimed the Champion Stakes and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

He recently showed his Dubai World Cup run to be all wrong as he closed on Byword to be beaten just half a length in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and provided owner Prince Khalid Abdullah with his first Eclipse victory since Dancing Brave in 1986.

Cecil's maiden win in the race came in his first season as a trainer with Wolver Hollow in 1969 and he went on to follow up with Wallow in 1976 and Gunner B two years later.

After pointing to a lump in his throat indicating the emotion felt after his hearty reception in the winner's enclosure, Cecil said: "Well done to all the staff at Warren Place and Graham Purse who rides him every day. Without them I would not be standing here talking to you.

"We decided this morning if there was no pace or not enough we would gradually let him lengthen, we didn't want a two-furlong sprint.

"It's great to see him win and whatever anyone says I do think he was unlucky at Royal Ascot.

"I'm pleased for the Prince and it's a pleasure to train for him. He's been a very good friend and I'm very lucky.

"Looking ahead there is the Juddmonte International and the Champion Stakes and I would love to win the Dubai World Cup.

"We'll see how he goes and see what the Prince wants to do as it's his horse.

"I thought we'd win the Dubai World Cup this year but he was drawn wrong and everything else went wrong, so I'd love to go back there."

Queally added: "There was no pace and if the Gosden filly had gone on she'd have set slower fractions than I did.

"It was different tactics to Ascot. In the Prince of Wales's Stakes you wouldn't have ridden him as boldly as this but he stayed well the last time.

"He's a real stable star and it means a lot. I remember from day one, even when Richard Hughes was first jockey to the Prince, I remember this horse had something about him and I love him."

Fast-ground loving Sri Putra completed a hat-trick on Guineas weekend at Newmarket and put in a career-best performance in second after trailing home in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

His trainer Michael Jarvis said: "He finished in front of Byword last season and his best form is very good.

"The way he ran today suggests to me he should step up to a mile and a half, either that or a galloping mile and a quarter again and we might think of going abroad again.

"He is now worth quite a bit as a three-time Group winner and a Group One-placed stallion prospect."

Viscount Nelson was the sole three-year-old in the field but never really appeared likely to provide Aidan O'Brien with a fifth win in the race.

O'Brien commented: "We're delighted with that. He's moving up all the time - every time he runs he gets better and hopefully that will continue. I don't know where he'll go next."

Dar Re Mi dropped back into fourth through the final furlong on her first start since March and was eased out to 10-1 from 7s by William Hill for the Betfair-sponsored King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Gosden said: "The pace was a bit suicidal - they went too fast early on for a filly having her first run back.

"But she has run a very good race and we can think about the King George now."

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