|The great unbeaten Eclipse by George Stubbs|
This afternoon’s Coral Eclipse looks one of the most competitive renewals for sometime. Crockford is sure that it would not have been if the legendary horse (the Sandown contest is named after) had lined up. Eclipse ran 18 times and was never extended by his rivals – as his owner claimed before one race as he placed his bet; “Eclipse first and the others nowhere”. The expression in those days meant that he would beat his rivals by 240 yards – now nobody will do that today. Eclipse was foaled during the solar eclipse of 1 April 1764 but did not race until he was five in 1769.
The first race to be held in his memory of the horse at Sandown Park was in 1886, where the £10,000 prize was put up by Leopold de Rothschild. From its first running the race has always attracted quality entrants. Winners have included greats such as Persimmon, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave and Sea the Stars. Looking at the runners today they may not be of the same class as those mentioned. However, wouldn’t be a fitting coincidence if the Rothschild’s could win the prize money with their fancied Nathaniel. This would be a continuation of their family relationship with the race as recently back in 2007 they won with Notnowcato. The second favourite may need the run but his trainer Gosden and his jockey (Buick) are in tremendous form and it is reported that he has grown and strengthened over the winter/spring.