De Sousa to partner Eminent at Sandown
Only Barney Roy and Cliffs Of Moher are ahead of the Frankel colt in the betting
Silvestre De Sousa, above, is replacing reigning champion jockey Jim Crowley.
Reigning champion jockey Jim Crowley has ridden the Frankel colt on each of his four starts to date, but connections have decided to replace him with De Sousa.
Trainer Martyn Meade said: “We don’t know for sure whether Jim would be available as obviously he is committed to riding for Sheikh Hamdan [Al Maktoum] and we wanted to have some certainty.
“I discussed it with the owner and we decided that a change might be the way to go.
“Hopefully Silvestre will come and have a sit on the horse this week, that would be the plan.
“All the work is done, so he doesn’t need to do any work on him, but hopefully he’ll have a sit on him.”
Meade’s stable star has finished sixth in the 2000 Guineas and fourth in the Epsom Derby on his two most recent appearances and is in line for a third shot at Group One glory this weekend.
Eminent is one of 16 horses confirmed for the Eclipse, with Barney Roy and Cliffs Of Moher the only two ahead of him in the betting.
The Richard Hannon-trained Barney Roy was runner-up to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, but reversed the form when landing the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He will step up to a mile and a quarter for the first time and is one of two Godolphin-owned contenders along with John Gosden’s Jack Hobbs, who was bitterly disappointing in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting.
Cliffs Of Moher has had this race as his target ever since filling the runner-up spot in the Epsom Derby.
The Galileo colt heads a five-strong team for Aidan O’Brien, with the Ballydoyle handler also responsible for Deauville, Johannes Vermeer, Orderofthegarter and Taj Mahal.
Other contenders in a potentially fascinating contest include the Roger Charlton-trained Decorated Knight, Mark Johnston’s King Edward VII Stakes victor Permian and Ulysses from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard.
Owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer feels Cracksman could benefit from a mid-season break following his narrow defeat in the Irish Derby on Saturday.
The John Gosden-trained son of Frankel was beaten just a length into third when favourite for the Investec Derby a month ago and renewed rivalry with Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles at the Curragh.
Cracksman reversed form with Wings Of Eagles, but had to make do with the runner-up spot behind another Ballydoyle inmate in Capri.
Oppenheimer told Press Association Sport: “I was thrilled with how he ran and I thought he was ridden extremely well.
“Pat Smullen said the horse has a lot of ability and he feels he’ll be twice the horse next year or even later this year. He said he still felt a little bit immature and he didn’t want to push him too much too early.
“He started his run late and was swallowing them up at the finish. We couldn’t quite catch Capri, but he’s beaten the Derby winner and the horse that was second in the French Derby (Waldgeist) and may have got there in another two strides.
“He’s come out of the race well and has eaten up and everything, but we might just give him some time and let him develop.”
Willie Mullins is keen to see Wicklow Brave defend his crown in the Irish St Leger later in the year after he was just touched off in the Curragh Cup on Sunday.
The dual-purpose eight-year-old provided Mullins with a first Classic success last September and also won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on his latest appearance over jumps in April.
Wicklow Brave was an 11-8 favourite in the Curragh Cup, having last month finished a creditable fourth in the Belmont Gold Cup in America, but was powerless to resist the late surge of the Joseph O’Brien-trained Rekindling.
Mullins said: “I thought it was a very good run and we might look at finding something for him before coming back to the Curragh for the Leger. He’s a fantastic horse to be able to do it at that level on the Flat and also over jumps.”