The Gurkha: scooted clear to win the French 2,000 Guineas
By Tony O’Hehir and Tony Mcfadden 6:20PM 28 JUN 2016
BOOKMAKERS reported a flo0d of money for Coral-Eclipse favourite The Gurkha on Tuesday, despite training Aidan O’Brien admitting that testing ground at Sandown would not be ideal.
The Gurkha could be backed at 13-8 on Tuesday morning but was no bigger than 5-4 by 6pm, while some firms took the decision to shorten the impressive French 2,000 Guineas winner to even-money.
O’Brien, who has five entries in the Eclipse, has yet to confirm that The Gurkha will run in Saturday’s contest but appears to be leaning towards letting the market leader take his chance.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, the trainer said: “The Gurkha worked this morning and went nicely. It’s very possible that he will run and we’ll probably make a decision tomorrow.
“Soft ground isn’t ideal for him but he does have form on it. We haven’t decided how many we’ll run in the race but it’s more unlikely than likely that Deauville will run.”
More money to come?
Saturday’s Eclipse, which features two supplementary entries in the shape of Hawkbill and Countermeasure, will be the most valuable contest ever run at Sandown.
It may not be the most competitive race, though, according to bookmakers who report that The Gurkha is the only horse wanted by punters.
David Stevens, spokesman for race sponsors Coral, said: “The Gurkha was installed as 100-30 favourite on Sunday when Aidan O’Brien raised the possibility of running at Sandown and since then he has been backed virtually to the exclusion of his rivals.
“At this rate the son of Galileo could be sent off odds-on on Saturday.”
Jon Ivan-Duke, of rival firm William Hill, echoed the view that O’Brien’s three-year-old has been all the rage in the ante-post betting. He said: “Punters are all over The Gurkha, he’s like a bad rash that we just can’t scratch.
“We’ve been cutting him and no matter what price we slash him to, there’s still a queue of people wanting to back him. By Saturday, he could be a horrible result for bookies.”
The course at Sandown is slowly recovering from the deluge of rain it received last week, which left the track waterlogged in places. On Tuesday afternoon the soft places on the round course had disappeared and the going was described as good to soft, though unsettled weather is forecast for the next few days.