2013 Cox Plate invitee Al Kazeem recorded his third straight Group 1 victory in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.
Al Kazeem added his latest win to his upset victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland and his most recent triumph in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, during the Royal Ascot meeting, and is clearly the best European horse over 2000 metres.
Although the Dubawi entire has the tactical speed required to excel in the Cox Plate (2040m) trainer Roger Charlton confirmed after the race that the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship is unlikely for the horse he believes is the best he has ever trained.
“It’s not my decision but I’d be reluctant to keep him going for the King George,” Charlton told the media in a post-race interview.
“He’s had three races on fast ground and I think he deserves a break.
“Then we can decide whether it’s the Juddmonte International or the Irish Champion Stakes, but I would have thought the Irish Champion is better timing, and then it would be good to run in the Arc.”
Fellow Cox Plate invitee The Fugue was well backed in the lead-up to the Coral Eclipse Stakes but finished at the tail of the seven horse field.
Trainer John Gosden, who brought 2012 Geelong Cup (2400m) winner Gatewood to Australia last spring, could not explain the disappointing performance.
“Everything was fine beforehand, but when they run as badly as that, it’s a mystery,” Gosden said.
The Fugue is expected to be spelled and is now unlikely to become the first European-trained horse to compete in the Cox Plate since Paolini in 2004.
The Coral Eclipse Stakes has never produced a Cox Plate winner but So You Think won the 2011 Coral Eclipse after winning back-to-back Cox Plate’s in 2009 and 2010.