JOHN Gosden reckons this year's Coral-Eclipse is 'one for the purists' as his star Mishriff takes on just three rivals.
There has been plenty of disappointment among racing fans that such a prestigious race has attracted a four-runner field.
But Gosden reckons it is a case of quality over quantity, as his multiple Group 1 winner goes head-to-head with top-class opposition in the shape of St Mark's Basilica and Addeybb.
Gosden said: "He's not the highest-rated horse, Addeybb is rated 3lb higher officially.
"I know it's an elitist field but what people have to realise is that it's a lot of money to enter these races, a lot of money to stay in at the forfeit stage and it's a lot of money to confirm.
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"When you have the likes of the front three here, they are not easy to take on so I think a lot of people take that viewpoint.
"Another thing for those criticising the small field to remember is the Prince of Wales's was only 16 days ago and I know from experience that it's very tough to come here after that.
"For the purists this is the type of race they enjoy – and you'll probably find the outsider, El Drama, will come and do the lot of them!"
Mishriff has done most of his winning overseas, claiming last year's French Derby before earning his connections two huge paydays in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
But Gosden reckons the horse needs to win a big one in the UK before he is properly recognised as the best 10-furlong horse in the world.
He said: “I think that it is absolutely right (that he needs to win a British Group 1 to be one of the best mile and a quarter horses around).
"He has done it in France and done it in the Middle East but he needs to do it in the UK.
“We’ve been happy with him. He trained nicely into the Saudi Cup and then flew home then had to train again for Sheema Classic.
"He showed his versatility having to do a mile and an eighth on the dirt and a mile and a half on the turf.
“The idea was to freshen him up and give him every possible chance to come back in for our summer programme. We are starting him off here in the Coral-Eclipse which had been our plan for a long time.
"I’ve been very happy with his preparation. He is not a horse I’ve taken away for a racecourse gallop as he has had enough travelling this year already.”
The bookies are struggling to separate Mishriff and St Mark's Basilica at the head of the Coral-Eclipse betting.
The big-race sponsor make Mishriff the 6-4 jolly, just ahead of St Mark's Basilica at 13-8, with Addeybb next at 11-4 and rank outsider El Drama 28-1.
Coral's Dave Stevens said: "Although there are only four runners lining up for this year's Coral-Eclipse, it's not unusual for this race to feature a small field.
"And what's more important is the quality of the quartet, and in Mishriff, St Mark's Basilica and Addeybb, we have three multiple Group 1 winners taking each other on in a terrific clash of the generations."
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