The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in September is the long-term aim for AL KAZEEM but Roger Charlton is quite prepared to keep his stable star over the shorter trip of the Coral–Eclipse for the time being and can be rewarded with a third successive Group 1 prize.
Declaration Of War‘s participation means that the five-year-old is out to 15/8 with bet365, sportingbet, Paddy Power and 888sport and that is excellent value given this year’s improvement. To be fair, I’m not sure you can take his victory in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot completely at face value as James Doyle was the only jockey alert to the fact that trail-blazer Mukhadram wasn’t stopping and the pair had the race to themselves over the final quarter-mile. The brave runner-up re-opposes at Sandown this weekend and won’t be taking any prisoners again but Willie Haggas‘ colt can be backed at 8/1 with BetVictor and Paddy Power to have his revenge on Al Kazeem and hang on for glory this time. Third The Fugue (9/2 with Paddy Power, Stan James and 888sport) is sure to finish closer this time, however, though it’s difficult to make a case for fifth Miblish, who’s a 125/1 chance with Stan James.
Declaration Of War is many people’s idea of the likely danger to Al Kazeem, reflected in the betting. A general 4/1, Joseph O’Brien‘s mount came right back to form in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot having disappointed in the Lockinge at Newbury. He has won over this longer trip but whether he’s as effective beyond a mile is open to debate and the real fly in the Eclipse ointment could be stablemate Mars.
Desperately unlucky in the Epsom Derby, he also met trouble in-running in the St James’s Palace Stakes but still finished third. Maybe he’s just one of those that always has a hard luck story but there’s a good chance that 1m2f will prove his optimum trip and I’m expecting a big run at the general 11/2 under Ryan Moore. Mario Hofer is adamant he has Pastorius back to his best and he, too, could challenge if that’s the case. A winner of three Group 1 races, two over the trip, the German raider is no mug but he ran an absolute shocker when favourite for Singapore’s big race of the year in May and that’s off-putting. I have to stick with Al Kazeem.