The Coral-Eclipse Stakes is one of the middle-distance Group One highlights of the season and gives a chance for that current season’s Classic generation (three year-olds) the chance to pit their wits against the older horses. Our Eclipse Stakes Tips can help you find the winner of the race.
Run over one and a quarter miles at Sandown Park racecourse in early July, this contest is open to horses aged 3 or older and with thirteen of the last sixteen winners having already landed a Group One contest in their careers then it often attracts some of the best horses from around the globe.
In recent years, we’ve seen two of the last nine Epsom Derby winners (2015 Golden Horn & 2009 Sea The Stars) from that season go onto land the Eclipse, while favourites have a fair record too – winning seven and being placed in twelve of the last sixteen renewals.
To help pin-point the winner of the 2018 Eclipse we are on-hand with some useful key trends and statistics – use these to find the best profiles of past winners.
There are always many trends to apply to each race but to keep things simple we’ve picked out four standout stats and applied these to the main 2018 runners. We hope they help you find the winner!
• 12 of out the last 13 winners had run in the previous 30 days
• 12 of the last 13 winners came from the first four in the betting
• 11 out of the last 13 winners had won over 1m 2f or further
• 10 out of the last 13 winners were Group 1 winners
This season’s Derby winner – Masar – was looking to follow in the hoofprints of the likes of Nashwan, Sea The Stars and Golden Horn, who all backed-up their Epsom successes by taking the Group One Eclipse the following month – but does Godolphin’s Derby hero will now MISS THE RACE after a late injury (banged his leg) on Friday.
Masar ❌✅✅✅ (Non-runner)
Roaring Lion ❌✅✅❌
Saxon Warrior ✅✅❌✅
Forest Ranger ❌✅✅❌
Let’s start with Masar (Non-runner) – this year’s Epsom Derby winner and the likely market leader for the race. It’s been a good contest for favourite backers with seven of the last sixteen winning, plus twelve of the last sixteen have hit the frame. He landed the fourth English Classic on the Downs last month in cracking style and there is every reason to think there is more to come. That was his first try over a trip beyond one and a quarter miles and he clearly relished it. Those looking to take him on might see the drop back in trip as a slight negative, but the stiff Sandown hill will surely bring his proven stamina into play. He’s also a course winner at the track, albeit over seven furlongs, so we know the course is fine too. Looking at the main four trends that we are focusing on above then he ticks them all baring having run in the last thirty days. However, there is every reason to take that stat with a pinch of salt this year as having raced thirty five days ago only just falls outside. Yes, we’ve seen a few Derby winners flop in this race – like Motivator (2/5) back in 2005 – however, more recently the likes of Sea The Stars (2009) and Golden Horn (2015) have given the Derby winners a boost in this contest. Others against him may feel the form of this year’s Derby wasn’t great as the second and fourth – Dee Ex Bee and Saxon Warrior – have since flopped in the Irish Derby.
Having said that his main rival here – Roaring Lion – was also in that Epsom race. The John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion was third in the Derby – beaten two lengths by Masar – so even if there are a few potential holes in the form we already know the Godolphin horse has the beaten of Roaring Lion. There is a big factor that may well be in Roaring Lion’s favour this time though – the trip. This drop back to one and a quarter miles looks a huge plus for Roaring Lion after not quite seeing out the longer Derby distance last time. Yes, he plugged on well for third but actually lost second near the finish so this shorter distance must be a postitive. Prior to that Derby run he routed a decent field in the Dante over this trip and with that also coming on lightening quick ground then he’s sure to be a popular alternative to the market leader. Looking at the main four trends he also falls down on the ‘days last ran’ but also not being a Group One winner yet also has this as a negative.
The race will be heavily dominated by the two already mentioned but Forest Ranger will be a lively outsider for punters to latch onto. This Richard Fahey four year-old was last seen winning the Group Two Huxley Stakes at Chester over this trip and seems to have thrived since being gelded over the winter – he’s two-from-two since. Based on the official ratings he’s got five pounds to find with Roaring Lion and rated eight pounds lower than Masar so would have to eke out some more improvement. In his current mood he’s certainly worth a crack at the highest level, but the trends do see him fall down on not being a proven Group One winner, while his last run came fifty-seven days ago.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the race five times (2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 & 2011) so anything he runs should be respected. He’s got the 2017 Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher and Happily but with his 2000 Guineas winner and Epsom Derby fourth – Saxon Warrior – now a confirmed runner this will be his main hope and now adds an extra sub-plot to the race with the Derby first, third and fourth now all renewing rivalry.
Saxon Warrior was last seen running a close third in the Irish Derby only last Saturday, so this is a quick turn-a-round. However, many will feel after coming up short over one and a half miles the last twice then this drop back in trip will be just what the doctor ordered for this season’s 2000 Guineas winner. He ticks three of the four main trends, with having failed to win over at least this trip (or further) the big one he falls down on. Those against him will also look to him having had a hard race in the Irish Derby just a week ago but connections clearly feel he’s come out of that Curragh race well enough to take his chance. Fair play to connections for letting him run though – the Sandown track officials will be delighted!
Looking at the other O’Brien runners. Cliffs Of Moher hasn’t really progressed since being runner-up in the Epsom Derby last season and is still to win at the highest level so he seems to have a bit to answer. Their filly – Happily – though is certainly no back number, especially as she gets thirteen pounds from the older horses. She’s rated 112 anyway so with that allowance that would bring her a lot closer to the others and also gets a handy three pounds from the ‘Derby Boy Trio’. She was a close fourth over in France at this trip last time and was a two-time Group One winner last term. It won’t, however, be an easy task running against the opposite sex but her only blot based on the trends is that she’s yet to win over this sort of trip, so certainly not one to dismiss lightly.
Finally, the 2016 winner of this race – Hawkbill – must surely get a mention. Over the years – well, going back to 1886 – we’ve had several back-to-back winners, but Hawbill will be looking to become the first horse to ‘regain’ the Eclipse. He is, however, the only proven course and distance winner in the field and of the four main trends does tick the boxes for days last run (17), being a previous Group One winner and also having won over at least this trip. Yes, this season’s form would suggest he requires more after last seen being well beaten both the Coronation Cup (Epsom) and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Ascot), but prior to those runs he was a good winner of the Group One Sheema Classic over in Dubai so if returning to anywhere near that level of form can’t be discounted when looking at those at bigger prices in the race.
Every race covered live on ITV can be found on our ITV Racing Tips, with runner by runner previews for each contest.