07/03/2008 12:00AM

Two favorites well-matched at Sandown


Bookmakers and their clients in England are having a difficult time deciding who to make the favorite in Saturday's Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park. Ladbrokes offer both Mount Nelson and Phoenix Tower at 7-2 in the 1 1/4-mile contest, which has come up well short of its usual high standard despite carrying a purse of $991,000.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Mount Nelson is a 4-year-old son of Rock of Gibraltar who is winless since taking the one-mile Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in October 2006. He ran just once last year, finishing 11th in the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes, but appeared to get back on track at Royal Ascot when he was fifth, but only 1 1/4 lengths behind his victorious stablemate Haradasun, in the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes.

The Henry Cecil-trained Phoenix Tower, a 4-year-old son of Chester House owned by Juddmonte, is more consistent than Mount Nelson and more adept at 1 1/4 miles. Four lengths second at the Eclipse distance in the Prince of Wales's Stakes to Duke of Marmalade, Phoenix Tower had been second in the one-mile Lockinge Stakes after having won the 1 1/8-mile Earl of Sefton Stakes.

Onetime handicapper Pipedreamer was third in the Prince of Wales, while Maraahel, no longer quite the force he once was, runs off a distant third in the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke Stakes. The Godolphin-owned Campanologist was an impressive winner of the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at the royal meeting, but is cutting back in distance and facing older horses for the first time. His stablemate Literato, last year's Champion Stakes winner, has disappointed badly in two starts this year and will run only if the ground softens up from its current good-to-firm rating.