Guide to the Sandown Eclipse Festival: The Summer Festival at Sandown Park Racecourse features a Ladies’ Day followed by Coral-Eclipse Day – Sandown’s most prestigious summer raceday.
The Eclipse Stakes is a Group 1 flat race open to horses aged three years or older. It is run over a distance of 1 mile, 2 furlongs and 7 yards (2,018 metres), and takes place each year in early July.
The event is named (like this website) after Eclipse, a celebrated 18th-century racehorse. First run in 1886, the inaugural race was won by Bendigo. At that time, it was Britain’s richest ever race with a prize fund of £10,000 donated by Leopold de Rothschild in response to a request by General Owen Williams, a co-founder of Sandown Park Racecourse.
With such a rich prize on offer the Eclipse Stakes attracted high-quality fields from the start and it is now famed for being the first time that the British Classic generation can face their older peers at Group 1 level – as a result it is one of the most fascinating and important races of the flat season.
In 1889 it was won by Ayrshire, the previous year’s Derby winner, while the first three finishers in 1903 — Ard Patrick, Sceptre and Rock Sand — had won seven Classics between them. Other Eclipse champions include such legends as Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Dancing Brave and Saddler’s Wells. Stars to have landed the Eclipse in recent years include Sea The Stars, Hawk Wing, the Australian champ So You Think, Nathaniel, Al Kazeem and Mukhadram and Golden Horn – who was the most recent Classic winner to achieve victory in 2015.
The race is now commonly known as the ‘Coral-Eclipse’ as it has been sponsored by Coral since 1976.
Most successful horse (2 wins): Orme – 1892, 1893; Buchan – 1919, 1920; Polyphontes – 1924, 1925; Mtoto – 1987, 1988; and Halling – 1995, 1996
Leading jockey (7 wins): Lester Piggott – Mystery IX (1951), Darius (1955), Arctic Explorer (1957), St Paddy (1961), Pieces of Eight (1966), Wolver Hollow (1969), Artaius (1977)
Leading trainer (6 wins): Alec Taylor, Jr. – Bayardo (1909), Lemberg (1910, dead-heat), Buchan (1919, 1920), Craig an Eran (1921), Saltash (1923)
Leading owner (5 wins): (incl. part ownership) 17th Earl of Derby – Swynford (1911), Colorado (1927), Fairway (1928), Caerleon (1931), Gulf Stream (1946); Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor – Buchan (1919, 1920), Craig an Eran (1921), Saltash (1923), Rhodes Scholar (1936); Sue Magnier – Giant’s Causeway (2000), Hawk Wing (2002), Oratorio (2005), Mount Nelson (2008), So You Think (2011); and Godolphin – Halling (1995, 1996), Daylami (1998), Refuse to Bend (2004), Hawkbill (2016)
2017 CORAL-ECLIPSE DAY
Live Music: Put on your dancing shoes after the last race and head to the parade ring to enjoy over an hour of live music from popular radio presenter, Scott Mills. After-racing entertainment is included in the admission price.
Tipping Competition: Fancy your chances at guessing the Coral-Eclipse winner? Head to the Main Entrance Foyer on the day, fill in a competition slip with your name and email address and post it into the box of one of the runners. Winners will be drawn from the winning horse box only and will be announced after the race as well as contacted via email. Prizes include lunch in the Brasserie and tickets to one of the music nights at the racecourse.