Tony McEvoy's Royal Symphony may be the hot favourite for Saturday's Group 1 Caulfield Guineas but in two runs, Phillip Stokes' Eclair Sunshine has only been a combined one length away from the McEvoy colt.
Eclair Sunshine was a head off of victory in the Listed Exford Plate at Flemington in September and it took a massive run from Royal Symphony to deny the $61 outsider a memorable victory. The next time the two met, Eclair Sunshine was only 0.8 lengths away from Royal Symphony when the pair ran 4th and 5th behind Perast in the Guineas Prelude.
"Everything has gone to plan so far. He was big first up and second up he did a few things wrong and hung a bit but if he ran straight he would have finished a lot closer. The winkers go on for Saturday so hopefully that helps him out."
For the big Group 1 on Saturday Royal Symphony is the current $4 favourite with UBET while Eclair Sunshine is at $35.
"He's drawn tricky (in barrier 14) but we are hoping the track will be favouring horses that run on. The barrier has definitely affected his odds and we'll probably need all the favours but you never know with a bit of luck."
A boost for Eclair Sunshine's chances is the booking of multiple Group 1 winning jockey Luke Nolen.
"Luke jumps on board for the Guineas, he's ridden him a lot at trackwork and has a good rapport with the horse."
The Guineas has always been the main goal for Eclair Sunshine and while Stokes is confident that Eclair Sunshine can run a good race on Saturday, there is also another option in Melbourne this spring for the gelding.
"We always thought he had ability and the first-up run at Flemington confirmed that. The Guineas has always been his main goal but if all goes well in his run on Saturday, and we think it should, we might take him to the Carbine Club on Derby Day."
"I think it's a pretty open race and obviously Royal Symphony is the main danger but in both of his (Eclair Sunshine's) runs we've been right behind him so we are a chance with some luck."
Stokes will also saddle up first starter Binding Force in Race 1, the Listed Debutant Stakes and Counterplay in Race 2, the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes.
"Binding Force is a nice, sharp two-year-old. He had a jump-out at Caulfield and looked well. He has good gate speed and is a good chance in a race with a lot of well-educated horses."
"Counterplay had no luck at Caulfield last start. While this is a tough race, I think she's an above average horse and is also a good chance on Saturday."