The Coral-Eclipse Stakes is a Group One race over one mile one furlong and two hundred and nine yards. It is a race that dates back to 1886 and was named after Eclipse, a horse that was unbeaten over eighteen starts and is featured in most thoroughbred racehorses’ pedigrees. The inaugural running was won by a horse named Bendigo, who won many top grade races in his career.
This Group One attracts good horses that have won the big races in the first half of the season. In 1903, the first three past the post had won seven classics between them in their careers so far. Ard Patrick won and had previously won the 1902 Derby and Prince Of Wales Stakes also that season. Sceptre was a brilliant race mare and finished in second. She won the 1902 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, St James’ Palace, Nassau Stakes and the St Leger in one season. She became the only horse to win four British Classics outright. Rock Sand was in third and became the tenth horse to win the Triple Crown (the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger). The last horse to win a classic and the taste victory in this was Golden Horn in 2015.
The Coral-Eclipse has an illustrious roll of honour over the past few years. Lots of the winners have gone on to have prosperous careers at stud like Nathaniel, sire of Enable, Sea The Stars, Derby winning sire of Harzand, Crystal Ocean and Stradavarius, Notnowcato, sire of Australian sprinting sensation Redkirk Warrior and Giant’s Causeway, sire of Shamardal.
Godolphin and Sue Magnier could become the winning most owner in the race if their horses win this as they are currently joint top with the 17th Earl of Derby and Waldorf Astor. Aidan O’Brien trains all of Magnier’s representatives and if one of them won this, they will become the joint winning most trainer with Alec Taylor Jr and Sir Michael Stoute. Hawkbill is also trying to become the sixth horse to ever win this race twice and if he does win, he will be the first to do so in inconsecutive years.
The prize to the winner this year is £448,363 and eight runners should go to post. The field is a good one as it contains a Classic winner in the form of Saxon Warrior. It could be judged as a fight between the young and old with five three year olds going up against three older horses and their allowances could be key.
Here is your runner by runner guide to the Coral Eclipse…
No 1- Cliffs Of Moher
T- Aidan O’Brien
J- Seamie Heffernan
First of the Aidan O’Brian trio and probably the outsider of the three. He was second in the Epsom Derby at three but hasn’t been able to replicate any form near to that since. He won a Group Two on his second start this season and was showing signs he could be back to that form but he just couldn’t deal with Group One class in two runs at Royal Ascot. It seems as though he’s just not up to this level.
No 2- Forest Ranger
T- Richard Fahy
J- Tony Hamilton
Winner of his last two starts, which were both in group company, he deserves to take his chance in this race. He is rated eight pounds less than Saxon warrior but is a winner at this trip and the Lawman gelding looks the pick of the older horses in the line up as he has improved a lot this season.
No 3- Hawkbill
T- Charlie Appleby
J- William Buick
Winner of this race in 2016 but that was on soft ground. He hasn’t won on good to firm going before so that could be an issue. His recent form is a bit of a worry as he has shown absolutely nothing since an extremely successful spell in Dubai in March. If he can return to his best one mile two form, he will definitely be in the mix.
No 4- Masar
No 5- Raymond Tusk
T- Richard Hannon
J- Jim Crowley
It is interesting to see this horse in this race as he has only ever ran in Class four races and won one of them over a mile on good to soft at Newbury. He is by High Chapparal and out of a mare called Dancing Shoes, a once raced horse for Dermot Weld. She has had eight foals and they have won ten times between them on the flat and over jumps. He must be held in high regard but probably can’t win. Connections are hopeful though.
No 6- Roaring Lion
T- John Gosden
J- Oisin Murphy
He won the Dante after finishing sixth in the 2000 Guineas behind Saxon Warrior. He will appreciate the drop in trip after being third in the Derby as he was absolutely cruising at two furlongs from home. He looked in good shape having a breeze up in last week and can fully take advantage of the opportunity if Saxon Warrior isn’t at his best.
No 7- Saxon Warrior
T- Aidan O’Brien
J- Donnacha O’Brien
Sensational winner of the 2000 Guineas over a mile but when stepped up in trip to run in the English and Irish Derbies, he has well and truly disappointed. The drop back in trip will aid his cause and, because of the absence of Masar, it’s his race to lose. He is also back with his 2000 Guineas pilot, his trainer’s son Donnacha, as Ryan Moore is in America like that day in May. He is having a quick turnaround from his Irish Derby run in which he came third so that could be a worry but Aidan O’Brien won’t run him unless he is perfectly fit.
No 8- Happily
T- Aidan O’Brien
J- Wayne Lordan
Happily is the only filly in the race and is a three time Group One winner at two over seven furlongs and a mile in three different countries. She ended her two year old campaign in America winning the Fillies’ Juvenile Turf but she has in a way disappointed in her three starts this season. She has ran in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas and finished third in both. Last time out, she ran fourth behind Laurens in the Prix De Diane but doesn’t look up to the boy’s class.
I am going to keep faith with SAXON WARRIOR now after the absence of Masar from the field which is unfortunate. Roaring Lion would be an appropriate winner considering fifty minutes after the off time of this race the England ‘Lions’ will be playing against Sweden in the World Cup and the horse can take advantage of the race if Saxon Warrior isn’t at his best.