Bend connections refuse to be eclipsed

REFUSE TO BEND will need to be at the top of his game if he is to continue his revival in form in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes this weekend.

That was the unanimous view yesterday of jockey Frankie Dettori and racing manager Simon Crisford as they confirmed the four-year-old on course for Saturday's big race at Sandown.

Rakti's presence in the line-up for the £409,000 contest will not deter a host of rivals from taking on the hot favourite.

Those expected to take up the challenge include Ikhtyar, Kalaman and the David Elsworth-trained pair Salford City and Norse Dancer.

Aidan O'Brien will also run Powerscourt, while Clive Brittain sends out Warrsan, who bids to become the first horse since Opera House in 1993 to score here after taking the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

But according to the sponsors' betting, it is Refuse To Bend supplemented into the contest at the five-day stage at a cost of £20,000 who could pose one of the biggest threats to the Michael Jarvis-trained star performer.

Having proved largely disappointing for Dermot Weld since winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last May, the colt appeared to continued his downward spiral in form when joining Godolphin, running poorly both in Dubai and in the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

But earlier this month he bounced back to form in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot meaning that he has now won a Group One event at two, three and four.

"To be honest we were very disappointed with him at Newbury as he had been working well after he got back from Dubai," said Crisford.

"But we kept our faith in him, then at Ascot he showed us what he can do. The race there did pan out to suit him and he also benefited from a super ride. But he has done well since and seems to be doing as well now as he did in the build-up to Ascot.

"We can't be confident because he has not really achieved anything when he has raced before at distances of over a mile. And if the rains were to come he is also unproven on ground softer than good.

"Rakti has got the form and everybody knows that. But we'll be there to give it a really good try and if it's good or faster that will really suit him."

Refuse To Bend's rider, Frankie Dettori, is also in no doubt about where the biggest danger will come from.

"I saw Rakti last year and I've seen him this year and I think the horse must have put on at least 30 kilos and he looks a complete mountain of a horse now," he said.

"I think Rakti has strengthened up a lot. He has improved between four and five and he looks a better horse than last year.

"Refuse To Bend is taking on one hell of a good field but he had a good wake-up call at Ascot.

"He is a horse who looked magnificent all winter. He always worked well, he always gave me a good feel and I always thought he'd win another Group One.

"I must say I was confused myself but I stuck with him and he delivered.

"He had a very hard campaign last year, running in the Guineas, Derby and Breeders' Cup and it probably took its toll on his confidence.

"It took him a couple of races to realise that he was still one of the good horses and he showed that at Ascot."

"From the first minute I rode the horse in Dubai I always thought 10 furlongs would be his trip and it was always the plan to step him up to a mile and a quarter, so this is his chance now."

Ladbrokes: Evens Rakti, 6-1 Ikhtyar, Powerscourt, Refuse To Bend, 9-1 Salford City, 12-1 Kalaman, 16-1 African Dream, 20-1 Imperial Dancer, Warrsan, 25-1 Kaieteur, Norse Dancer, 40-1 Chancellor, 66-1 Maktub.

Cashmans: 11/10 Rakti, 7/1 Powerscourt, Refuse to Bend, 8/1 Salford City, 10/1 Ikhtyar, 12/1 Kalaman.

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