Junior Eclipses Rivals at Sandown

David Junior swept from last to first to conclusively reverse Royal Ascot form with Ouija Board to take the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at Sandown Park on Saturday.

The Brian Meehan-trained son of Pleasant Tap suffered a rare off-day two weeks ago at Royal Ascot, and could finish no better than fourth to the classy Ouija Board in the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-I).

Sent off as the 9-4 second choice, jockey Jamie Spencer had David Junior settled in the back of the pack in the early stages of the race, as recently purchased pacemaker, Royal Alchemist, set a strong gallop up front. Spencer tracked Ouija Board and her jockey, Christophe Soumillon, through the pack as they straightened for the stretch run. Spencer then swung his colt to the outside and had clear sailing as the chestnut rolled to a decisive 1 ½-length victory over 9-1 outsider Notnowcato. Blue Monday, at 8-1, finished a neck back in third.

Ouija Board endured a rough trip throughout the race. She was sandwiched between rivals just inside the two-furlong pole, and then endured four separate pieces of interference within a furlong, stumbling badly as a result of one of them. When Soumillon finally found daylight for his mare she was full of run, but it was too late in the race to matter.

Soumillon told reporters, "The horse on my outside (Aussie Rules) kept keeping me in and it was very difficult on this track to find any room. I decided to switch her to the inside but she stumbled for a stride, only to stay on again at the end."

Since winning the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) in March, owner David Sullivan has had the Breeders' Cup Classic powered by Dodge (gr. I) as a long-term goal. Sullivan stated after the race, "We may go to York for the Juddmonte International (Eng-I), then the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) and the Breeders' Cup," he said. "He will go on the dirt once and if he doesn't handle it, he doesn't handle it. We didn't run in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) because we didn't want to go all that way to be beaten."

David Junior hails from a strong female family. His dam, Paradise River, is a full sister to champion Paradise Creek. She is also a half-sister to grade 1 winners Forbidden Apple and Wild Event. The family also has produced champion and leading sire Theatrical.