07/05/2006 11:00PM

Ouija Board favored to capture Eclipse

Edward Whitaker / Racing Post
Ouija Board switches from Olivier Peslier (above) to Christophe Soumillon.

Ouija Board is the 5-4 favorite for Saturday's $786,000 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, where the appearance of Kieren Fallon, booked to ride Aussie Rules in the Group 1 race, depends upon the outcome of his Friday hearing before Britain's Horse Racing Regulatory Authority.

Fallon will be hoping that the Regulatory board will answer "yes" in determining whether to reinstate his license to ride in Britain following charges of conspiracy to commit fraud through race-fixing filed against him by London police on Monday. If so, he will take his place aboard Aussie Rules, the French 2000 Guineas winner who failed to stay 1 5/16 miles last time when seventh in the French Derby.

If Fallon's British license is revoked, Aidan O'Brien will have to scramble for a replacement rider for the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse, although Johnny Murtagh is available. Be it Fallon or Murtagh, however, it is difficult to see Aussie Rules repeating the victory of last year's O'Brien-trained 3-year-old winner Oratorio.

Ouija Board looked better than ever when taking the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes on June 21 at Royal Ascot. New rider Olivier Peslier suited her to a tee at Royal Ascot, where she defeated Electrocutionist, but she will have to do without the Frenchman's services at Sandown because he is engaged to ride for the Wertheimer brothers at Deauville on Saturday. In Peslier's absence, Christophe Soumillon has picked up the ride on the 5-year-old Ouija Board. The French-based Soumillon will be the seventh rider trainer Ed Dunlop has used on Ouija Board in what will be her 18th start.

If Ouija Board is to be beaten, David Junior is the one with the credentials to do it. The winner of both the Champion Stakes and the Dubai Duty Free, the Brian Meehan-trained David Junior was only a one-paced fourth behind Ouija Board in the Prince of Wales's off a three-month layoff, but should be much better off for that effort. Regular rider Jamie Spencer will be on board.

Neither Notnowcato, a two-time Group 3 winner and fifth-place finisher in the Prince of Wales, nor the 3-year-old Royal Ascot listed race winner Snoqualmie Boy has the ability to pose a threat.

Only the names Ouija Board and David Junior have the same ring as recent Eclipse winners Falbrav, Giant's Causeway, Daylami, and Pilsudski. If the 5-2 David Junior is at his best, he should join them on the Sandown roll of honor.