A Look Ahead - The Coral Eclipse Stakes

A Look Ahead - The Coral Eclipse Stakes

The next Group One feature this summer is the Eclipse Stakes run at Sandown Park racecourse over the mile-and-a-quarter distance.

The event was established in 1886 having been named after an 18th-century horse called Eclipse, and has been sponsored by Coral since 1976.

With more experienced horse's potentially arriving off the back of competing in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, it is one of the first opportunities for them to clash with the upcoming three-year-old's.

This race is one of the highlight ten furlong fixtures throughout the season, with the International Stakes, Irish Champion and the Champion Stakes some of the other headline targets down the line.

The Eclipse is no stranger to same-year Classic winners voicing their claims against the older horses over this distance, with the most recent of those winning being Golden Horn in 2015.

In 2017, Ulysses claimed the race for a record-equalling sixth time for trainer Sir Michael Stoute - a horse who went onto win the Juddmonte on the Knavesmire on his next start, defying a pair of three-year-olds.

Last year, Roaring Lion; the star of the season took control of the division with an emphatic victory in this event - ironically on the same day that England made the Quarter Finals of the Russia World Cup.

The win provided young upcoming jockey Oisin Murphy with a first British Group One.

This season could be a very special renewal though, with the race being the planned return for dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Enable.

Having skipped the Coronation Cup at Epsom and any possible dates at Royal Ascot, trainer John Gosden has targeted this race to be the start of her five-year-old campaign and final road back to Longchamp to attempt for a historic hat-trick in the French highlight.

She has never raced at Sandown before, and could be up against some fitter and fresher milers who fancy the step-up in trip, plus a few victors from Royal Ascot.

This will be no easy task if she does go to post, but this remains the plan for Prince Khalid Abdullah's star filly, and everyone cannot wait to see her back.

Standing in her way could be the likes of Crystal Ocean - who she beat last season on route to France in the September Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton.

The son of Sea The Stars - traditionally pipped in the top-banded races for the last two season's proved his trainer's methods of patience when taking home the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot just last week - a first career Group One.

This race may just come a little soon for him and with the eye drawn to the King George back in Berkshire at the end of July, it would be a surprise to see him line-up here.

He still holds an entry before the final declarations are made on Thursday 4th July, likewise does Sea Of Class - the Irish Oaks winner who finished a narrow second to Enable in the Arc last season.

The two are expected to take different paths and avoid each other completely between now and their French rematch in October, with William Haggas' four-year-old also potentially King George bound after a standard return at a rainy Royal Ascot seven days ago.

She should fair better off the back of a run now and with improving ground conditions, she should be a likely figure in that contest.

As for this race, it could attract another top filly this time from Ireland and Aidan O'Brien's yard.

Ballydoyle have had a couple of near misses in this race since last winning it in 2011 with So You Think, but despite Magical being beaten at Ascot by Crystal Ocean, she still with provide Enable with every sort of test.

The four-year-old also was on the receiving end to an Enable victory - this time in the Breeders Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in America, but she has since come out and started this season with three victories including in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

There is every possibility she could line up here for her next target, whilst O'Brien could also send the versatile Circus Maximus back up in trip after his victory in the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot.

After his sixth in the Derby, it was a training masterpiece from the Irish raider who rightfully gave all the credit to the horse post race.

Sir Michael Stoute could still have a runner with Regal Reality who took the Brigadier Gerard Stakes here a few Thursday's ago, whilst William Haggas has stated that Sea Of Class's stablemate Addeybb has every chance of turning up in Esher following his impressive win in the Wolferton.

That said, the five-year-old Lincoln winner of last season may well fulfil his entry in the Irish Derby meeting this weekend at the Curragh in preference of suitable ground conditions.

Beat The Bank - one of the top milers may fancy himself over a little further against an unfit Enable after his outstanding second in the Queen Anne, whilst Zabeel Prince has work to do following his disappointing Ascot seventh having won the Group One Prix d'Ispahan in great style the start before.

Plenty of horses remained involved that are unlikely to fair here and will subsequently miss this out, featuring Masar, Anthony Van Dyck, Too Darn Hot and Hermosa, so expect the field to majorly thin out between now and raceday.

Previous runner-up Barney Roy, Elarqam, Dancetaria and Lockinge winner Mustashry are other high-profile names still involved at this still early stage.

The Coral Eclipse takes centre stage at Sandown on Saturday the 6th July.