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The Coral Eclipse

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History

The Coral Eclipse Stakes, at one time Britain’s richest race, is a rarity – it’s named after a horse. Eclipse was a phenomenal 18th-century stallion, unbeaten in 18 starts. His excellence inspired the phrase “Eclipse first and the rest nowhere”, still used today to describe a dominating performance.

Fittingly, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, run at Sandown Park over 1 mile 2 furlongs (2,000 metres) for three-year-olds and older horses, has always attracted high-quality fields. Take the first three finishers in 1903 – they shared seven Classic victories between them. That tradition has continued, with the 2009 race won by Sea The Stars, the 2000 Guineas and Derby winner (and, later in the same year, victor in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris).

The Coral-Eclipse provides the first major opportunity for three-year-olds, who have previously only raced at the top level against their own generation in races like the QIPCO 2000 and QIPCO 1000 Guineas, the Investec Derby and Investec Oaks and the St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes, to meet their older rivals. The bookmaker Coral has sponsored the race since 1976, making it one of the longest-running sports sponsorships.

Current leading jockeys: Frankie Dettori, 3 wins (1998, 2004, 2015)
Current leading trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, 6 wins (1993, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2017)

Previous winners

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Enable dazzles on return in Coral Eclipse

Enable raised the roof as she made a superb seasonal debut in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

The John Gosden-trained mare became only the third of her sex to win the mile-and-a-quarter QIPCO British Champions Series showpiece, after Pebbles (1985) and Kooyonga (1992) – and did it in style as she registered her eighth Group One triumph.

Frankie Dettori had the 4-6 favourite in the ideal pitch in second place behind the Aidan-O’Brien-trained Hunting Horn, before asking the four-time Series heroine to go and win her race.

Though it was her first start since the Breeders’ Cup, she had the class to overcome any race-rustiness and defeat her old rival Magical, from the O’Brien team, by three-quarters of a length. Regal Reality was two lengths back in third.

Gosden, winning the race for the fourth time, said: “It’s been a long preparation, she’s only started coming to herself the last two weeks and quite frankly she’s come here at 85 per cent (fit), maybe 90.

“The last furlong I was concerned and I told Frankie if she gets tired you look after her. This is not a prep, it’s an Eclipse, but it’s a prep for the rest of the year. I couldn’t be more thrilled with her. The King George next is the plan.”

He added: “She is better over a mile and a half. This time Hunting Horn was a friend to her and set a nice even pace. We just sat there and Frankie, when he pressed the button one and a half out, put the race to bed.

“There was a magnificent mare in second and they say a filly hasn’t won this since Kooyonga, well you had a one-two there and that tells you a lot about Magical as well as her. They meet again and I’m sure they will meet again in the King George.

“She is a filly that we can hopefully get to the King George, York (Juddmonte International) and Longchamp (Arc). It has always been the plan, those four races, so this has been a good start.”

A jubilant Dettori said: “What a great filly. All of us put so much work into it and she has slowly come these last 10 days. She has been flying up the gallops.

“In the back of our mind we were very confident, but the race will bring her on. I’m as ecstatic as I was when I won my first race on her. She is a superstar and she is unbelievable now with the Eclipse on top.

“You wouldn’t get this reception in a football game. I can’t hear myself talk at the moment. It’s amazing.

“She’s special and she touches me. When she comes racing the lights come on. I love her so much. She’s the queen of racing.”

O’Brien was magnanimous in defeat and said of Magical: “She ran a great race. We might give her a little rest now.

“We wanted to give her a rest after Ascot, but she came out of Ascot very well and we just decided to let her take her chance here. We’ll bring her back for the autumn.

“Enable is a great filly, beautifully trained, beautifully bred, beautifully ridden. It’s a privilege to be here to see her.”

Results

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The Course

Compared to many of Britain’s leading horseracing venues, Sandown Park is ultra-modern. It’s only been in existence since 1875.

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Where many courses developed gradually and informally, Sandown Park was purpose-built on the edge of London. The town planners considered an alternative use for the site – as a lunatic asylum – but thankfully opted for the horses instead.

You can see such landmarks as the London Eye, Wembley Stadium and the Gherkin from the racecourse but most fans keep their eyes firmly fixed on Sandown’s famous hill finish, the stage of many thrilling finales. Legendary jockey Fred Archer rode a winner at the inaugural meeting, while Arkle, Mill Reef and Desert Orchid – over the fences, of course – all triumphed here. Sandown was the Queen Mother’s favourite course.

Its biggest flat race, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes in early July, is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.  It’s named after the undefeated 18th century racehorse, Eclipse, who became a hugely influential stallion with 95% of modern-day thoroughbred racehorses tracing back to him through their male bloodlines.

Getting there

Portsmouth Rd,
Esher
KT10 9AJ

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