Fortune relishing Van Winkle opportunity

JIMMY Fortune can hardly wait to get the leg up on Aidan O’Brien’s Rip Van Winkle in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown tomorrow.

Fortune has come in for the ride on the Galileo colt with Ballydoyle stable jockey Johnny Murtagh on the sidelines due to suspension.

The three-year-old has so far finished fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and in the Derby at Epsom, both of which were won by Sea The Stars.

Fortune admits John Oxx’s charge is the one to beat again at the weekend but he has certainly not given up hope of turning the form around.

“He’s a very nice horse and for Johnny to ride him in the Derby, he has obviously being doing everything right at home so I’m very happy to get the ride,” Fortune told At The Races.

“To win a Guineas and then go on and win a Derby, Sea The Stars is obviously a high-class horse and he’s the one we’ll all have to beat.

“Conduit is also a solid horse who has been there in these Group One races and done it. He handles the track and he is going to be there.

“It looks a three-horse race but you can not write off Luca Cumani’s horse (Cima De Triomphe).

“The trip could be ideal for us as he travelled well in the Derby and there were stamina doubts going in there, so you would have thought this was his trip.

“I’ll speak to Aidan and see what he wants me to do and obviously I’ll speak to Johnny and find out everything I can about the horse.

“Hopefully we’ll get it right on the day.

“We haven’t got that much to find with Sea The Stars, it’s going to be a great race and I’m looking forward to it.”

Joining Rip Van Winkle from Ballydoyle are Malibu Bay and Set Sail, while St Leger and Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Conduit spearheads the older generation, with stable companion Lang Shining also taking his chance.

Henry Cecil’s Twice Over, Cima De Triomphe, Steele Tango and Jukebox Jury complete the stellar line-up.

Mike De Kock’s Archipenko was not declared after suffering a swollen fetlock.

Assistant trainer Juan Nel said: “It’s a race we’ve been targeting for a long time and it’s very hard to take.

“We discovered the problem early this morning and it’s a huge disappointment.

“We haven’t had a full prognosis yet, so we’re a little bit in the dark in terms of when he’ll be back.

“It’s a huge blow, but that’s racing.”

Tazeez, Monitor Closely and Westphalia were the other withdrawals at the final declaration stage, meaning the sponsors have decided to cut Sea The Stars to 4-6 from 4-5 for the historic contest.

Coral spokesman Simon Clare feels he could be even shorter come post time.

“We are absolutely thrilled at the stellar line-up for our race but the betting public only has eyes, and cash, for one horse, Sea The Stars,” said Clare.

“We initially offered 5-4 at the start of the week, but he has been backed at all rates down to 4-6.

“The weight of public support on Saturday could well see him start 1-2, or even shorter.”

Cashmans however make him a 4-5 chance.

Coral-Eclipse, sponsors bet: 4-6 Sea The Stars, 7-2 Conduit, 4-1 Rip Van Winkle, 8-1 Cima De Triomphe, 16-1 Twice Over, 66-1 Steele Tango, Jukebox Jury, 200-1 Malibu Bay, Lang Shining, 250-1 Set Sail

Cashmans bet: 4-5 Sea The Stars, 4 Conduit, 5 Rip Van Winkle, 8 Cima de Triomphe, 20 Twice Over, 40 Jukebox Jury, 50 Malibu Bay, 66 Steele Tango, 100 Lang Shining, 300 Set Sail

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