2014 Cox Plate Hope Mukhadram Wins Coral-Eclipse Stakes

After a first-up loss at Ascot the Cox Plate 2014 dream has been reignited by international invitee Mukhadram after their Coral-Eclipse Stakes win at Sandown Park in the UK over the weekend.

The British galloper broke their Group 1 maiden on Saturday with a big two length effort in the £450,000 Coral-Eclipse Stakes over 2018m with Paul Hanagan in the saddle as a 14/1 chance, a race they ran second in last year.

It was an improved effort from the Shamardal five-year-old on their fourth in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) on June 18 won by The Fuge that came 12 weeks after their second to African Story in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup (2000m) in late March.

“He was unlucky last year, he probably wasn’t the winner, but the winner lay over him and it cost him second,” Racing Victoria reported their trainer William Haggas as saying on Saturday.

“He ran great in the Prince Of Wales’s again and we thought he was stronger this year.

“I thought that looked pretty straight forward.

“He has stamina in his pedigree, he’s a resolute galloper, and I’d like to ask [owner] Sheikh Hamdan if I can run him in the King George.

“It’s three weeks away, and we’ll enjoy the moment first.

“We’ve always believed in him and I’m thrilled for everyone he’s gone and done it today.”

Winning their first race since the Group 2 York Stakes (2092m) in July of last year, Mukhadram is one of 10 overseas-trained gallopers invited by Racing Victoria to travel down under for this year’s $3 million Group 1 2014 Cox Plate (2040m).

The race, held at Moonee Valley on October 25, is certainly still being considered by Haggas and connections.

In the Coral-Eclipse Stakes Mukhadram had two lengths to spare over last year’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather who they beat by two lengths after tracking up the leader to hit the front over the final 400m.

They carried 60.5kg to victory and will certainly be well positioned in the Cox Plate run under weight-for-age conditions.

The final decision on a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign for Mukhadram though will be left up to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.

“He will head to the King George now and we will sit down and talk about plans after that,” said Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold.

“I do think the Cox Plate is a race that would suit this horse but it is a long way off yet and the decision would have to be Sheikh Hamdan’s.

“Let’s get his next race out of the way before we start looking at longer-term targets.”

The King George at Ascot on July 26 could turn into a Coral-Eclipse rematch too with Trading Leather’s trainer Jim Bolger also confirming they were looking at the race ahead of the Arc and Irish Champion Stakes.

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