First run in 1886, the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes, which now carries prize-money of £750,000 and is run at Sandown Park, is one of the most-important races of the season and provides an opportunity for the Classic crop, the three-year-olds, to meet older horses over 10 furlongs for the first time at Group 1 level during the course of the British or Irish flat seasons.
Its list of winners is a prestigious one and includes Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Sadler’s Wells, Pebbles, Dancing Brave, Nashwan, Pisudski, Daylami, Giant’s Causeway, Sea The Stars, Golden Horn and, last year, Roaring Lion.
The race is named after Eclipse, one of the greatest horses of all time, who went through his career unbeaten in 18 races in 1769-1770. He then became a hugely-successful sire and appears in the pedigree of most modern-day Thoroughbred bloodlines.
A bright chestnut in colour, he had a narrow white blaze on his face and a white stocking on his right hind leg and, at 16 hands, was tall for the time.
He was purchased by an Irishman, Dennis O’Kelly, in two stages: 650 guineas in April 1769 after he won his second race and 1,100 guineas in April the following year. O’Kelly is considered to have made his fortune from gambling. He made an even greater fortune from the stud exploits of Eclipse, who is reported to have sired between 325 and 340 individual winners, including three of the first five Epsom Derby winners, Young Eclipse, Saltram and Serjeant.
Here are the list of hopefuls for this year’s race:
ENABLE – Brilliant filly, an eight-time Group/Grade 1 winner, including the last two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes and last season’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. It is great to see her back on the racecourse. A record-breaking third-successive ‘Arc’ victory will be in connections’ minds this season, although she is reported by trainer John Gosden to be in very good form in the build-up to Sandown. Official Rating (OR) 125
MAGICAL – Trained by Aidan O’Brien, she has won seven races, two of them at Group 1 level, and she finished a good second to Crystal Ocean on soft ground in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. She’s fully entitled to run well. She gave Enable a good race when she was beaten three-parts of a length by her in the Breeders Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November, although she is now four pounds worse off at the weights OR 123
REGAL REALITY – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he arrives at Sandown as an improver, having put up a career-best performance when winning over today’s course and distance on his first try at ten furlongs. His stable is in very good form and he is open to improvement, although he will need to progress further based on what we know in order to win today. OR 116
TELECASTER – Trained by Hughie Morrison, he entered the Epsom Derby picture when winning the Dante Stakes at York, although the occasion may have got to him when running at Epsom, where he finished last. He’s open to improvement but it would be a big step up for him to win today. OR 115
MUSTASHRY – Hit a career high when winning the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May over one mile, but could do no better than finish seventh in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot (also over one mile), despite running creditably. He won on his only previous try at today’s trip, which came here a year ago, and he is open to further improvement at it. Like Regal Reality, he is trained by the in-form Sir Michael Stoute. OR 121
ZABEEL PRINCE – Trained by Roger Varian, he is lightly raced for a six-year-old and has looked better than ever this season in winning a Group 3 race at Newmarket and a Group 1 race in France. However, he finished seventh of eight runners at Royal Ascot last time (Magical finished second) on soft going, a surface he had previously handled. OR 117
It is 50/1 and 80/1, respectively, the others two runners, Hunting Horn and Danceteria