Pat Smullen on standby for Time Test in Eclipse

Derby-winning jockey Pat Smullen could come in for the ride on leading Coral-Eclipse contender Time Test should his regular partner Ryan Moore be required by Aidan O’Brien.

Pat Smullen on standby for Time Test in Eclipse

In the likely event of Moore teaming up with the Ballydoyle maestro, who is responsible for 13 of the 39 entries left in the Group One contest at Sandown on July 2, connections will turn to the eight-times Irish champion jockey to partner the Roger Charlton-trained four-year-old.

On his sole start this season the son of Dubawi ran out an impressive winner of Sandown’s Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

Smullen has ridden Time Test once before when fourth in last summer’s Juddmonte International at York. Charlton said: “I understand that if Aidan O’Brien runs something that will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

“In that event Pat Smullen is more than likely to come in for the ride as he has an agreement with Juddmonte (owners), but that we won’t know until next week.

“Ryan Moore has always been keen to ride him but he may not be available.”

Reflecting on Time Test’s excellent comeback performance, the trainer added: “We were expecting it. I was just aware that he had not run since October and that it had been a messy spring weather-wise to bring him to his peak fitness.

“Plus he had to give away a 5lb penalty, which is quite tough.

“I think arguably he produced a career-best performance at Sandown. He didn’t get the clearest passage and he looked very resilient up the hill.

“He was always going to win. It was a good comeback run.”

With soft ground ruling Time Test out of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, the Beckhampton handler is hoping that the rain stays away in order to allow his stable star the chance to try and claim a first top-level success.

He said: “Obviously we wanted to go for the Prince Of Wales’s. Everything was on target for that until the weather spoiled our chances as clearly he is a much better horse, as he showed in the Tercentenary, on fast ground.

“His preparations have gone smoothly since then. He worked well last Saturday and will do some more work this Saturday and he will be spot-on for the Eclipse on a course he has run at three times.

“If the ground was soft we would be left scratching our heads what to do next but he is in all the best races from a mile to a mile and a half.

“He would run on good ground, (but) if it was good to firm or firm he would be at his best. The Eclipse would suit him well so let’s hope for a dry week.

“I think he is a Group One horse but we have got to get there and things have to go right for you.”

Should conditions at Sandown go against Time Test, a return to York for a potential clash with triple Group One winner Postponed, could be next on the agenda.

“There are a lot of very good races between a mile and a mile and a half. If circumstances change he could go to a mile and a half but I would prefer to stick at a mile and a quarter and the Juddmonte is the obvious race,” said Charlton.

“Things didn’t work out at York last year as it was slow ground that day. It would be nice to have a crack at Postponed in the Juddmonte as I think they will run him in the King George and then the Juddmonte. He looks a pretty solid horse.”

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