Dubai: Godolphin’s Epsom Derby (G1) hero Masar is likely to skip the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) in favour of a shot at the £500,000 Coral Eclipse Stakes (G1), a race that his stable have won on five previous occasions.
The stable, which was formed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, won the Eclipse with Halling (1995, 1996), Daylami (1998), Refuse to Bend (2004) and Hawkbill (2016).
Trainer Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website: “His Highness Shaikh Mohammad and I discussed Masar’s programme at length and have reached the conclusion that the Eclipse (July 7) will suit him best.
“We will leave him in the Irish Derby (June 30), just to keep all options open. But the intention is to run in the Eclipse.
“Masar has won at Sandown (the Group 3 Solario Stakes), showing that he acts well on the track and dropping back in trip will be no problem — he won the Group 3 Craven Stakes and finished third in the Group 1 Guineas. He’s got plenty of speed,” he added.
Masar will have to be supplemented for the Sandown showpiece as he does not hold an entry for the 1,800 metre contest.
However, British bookmakers rank him a clear-cut favourite at 2/1 ahead of top contenders including Roaring Lion (3), Saxon Warrior (9), fellow Godolphin galloper Benbatl (10) and Cracksman.
Should Masar be confirmed for the Eclipse, Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee looks to have strong claims of giving Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, a first Irish Derby success.
“If Masar is going to the Eclipse that would make Ireland a strong favourite for Dee Ex Bee,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father Mark, told the Irish Times.
“He is in great order and we could even have gone to Royal Ascot as he has come out of [the Derby] so well.”
Meanwhile, in an interesting development, Ascot racecourse revealed on Wednesday that new security measures will be introduced for this year’s Royal Meeting, which starts on Tuesday, June 19. In an attempt to restrain excessive drinking and drug-taking, a team of at least 20 sniffer dogs will be used to check racegoers.
A successful trial run was held during a race meeting at the course in May. Ascot management also plans to conduct breath-tests on all racegoers on their arrival.