Time Test has to battle ground as well as rivals

Roger Charlton fully intends for Time Test to take his place in today’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Time Test has to battle ground as well as rivals

Although the ground on the round course at the Esher track is expected to remain good to soft, good in places the Beckhampton handler will let the four-year-old take his chance in the Group One mile-and-a-quarter event.

After missing an engagement in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on account of soft ground, the four-year-old has been restricted to just the one start this season, an outing which resulted in a win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at the Esher track in May.

Charlton said: “George Baker said that it is riding softer than it walks. I walked round the bend and the stick goes in quite a long way. Up the straight it is pretty good.

“You can water selectively as certain parts dry up quickly, but when it rains you don’t have that control.

“He is in good nick and there is nothing I can do about it (ground). He did win his maiden race under similar conditions.

“We know he is a very good horse on fast ground and it would inconvenience others if it was fast. My Dream Boat would not run and maybe The Gurkha too.

“He (Time Test) runs. It has never been in doubt all week that he was not going to run. I’m happy with him. Maybe we have a slight advantage not having a hard race 17 days ago.”

While the prospects of the track receiving much rain overnight are slim, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper does not expect to change the going significantly ahead of racing.

He said: “We have barely seen a millimetre fall with all the bits and pieces we have had today. We are opening up a fresh last seven furlongs and we know now where we will put the bend out to for Saturday.

“I don’t really envisage a great deal of change. I don’t think it is going to dry out to good, good to soft in places. We are going to be on the slow side, but it won’t be any slower than good to soft.”

Clive Cox, meanwhile, believes his Prince of Wales’s hero My Dream Boat has plenty going for him.

The former jump jockey has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds his progressive colt and having signed off last season with successive wins in France, he picked up where he left off with a comeback victory in April’s Gordon Richards Stakes over the Eclipse course and distance.

He disappointed on his latest cross-Channel raid for the Prix d’Ispahan, but proved his top-level talent with a tremendous victory at the Royal meeting and Cox is anticipating another bold show in this weekend’s feature event.

“We’ve won a Group One, we’re heading to Sandown as a Group One winner and there’s no better feeling, whether he gets due credit or not doesn’t bother me,” said the trainer.

“We’re quite pleased there’s going to be plenty of pace in the race because it’s pretty obvious that suits us best with the way he finishes off his races.

“On the face of it everything is great, he’s fresh and well and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Eclipse traditionally provides three-year-olds with a first opportunity to take on their elders at Group One level in Britain and the main hope for the Classic generation this season is The Gurkha.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge destroyed his opponents in the French 2000 Guineas before finding Galileo Gold too strong in a barnstorming St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.

O’Brien has saddled five previous winners of the 10-furlong contest, with Giant’s Causeway (2000), Hawk Wing (2002) and most recently So You Think (2011) among those on the roll of honour for the master of Ballydoyle.

He said: “He came out of Ascot very well, he looks like a horse that could go up to a mile and a quarter and have no problem coming back to a mile again. Hopefully the deluge won’t come.”

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