As of July approaches, fans of flat racing will be looking forward to another blockbuster month of meetings — none more so than The Summer Festival at Sandown Park, which is of course headlined by the Eclipse.
The one-mile, one-furlong race is a great opportunity for three-year-olds to test themselves against top-class older horses, and with £750,000 up for grabs, it goes without saying that owners, trainers, and jockeys set their sights on the prestigious race each year.
So, with John Gosden’s Mishriffleading the way in the horse betting ahead of the 3 July race, let’s take a look back at the last five winners…
6/1 shot Hawkbillupset odds-on favorite The Gurkha in a thrilling encounter back in 2016. Ridden by William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby, Hawkbillwas neck-and-neck with his Aidan O’Brien-trained counterpart for most of the race, and just half a length separated the surprise winner from The Gurkhaand jockey Ryan Moore at the finish. It was a timely win for Buick, as it was his final race before a two-week suspension for an earlier incident with stewards at Chantilly.
The 2017 renewal of the Eclipse was equally as dramatic, as there was little more than a nose between 8/1 outsider Ulysses and Barney Roy, who was much more fancied in the betting market at 9/4. It certainly would have been a win to savor for jockey Jim Crowley. The 2016 Champion Jockey lost his ride aboard 4/1 shot Eminent to Silvestre De Sousa, but ultimately, the shocking turn of events worked in his favor as he romped home with Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulyssesinstead.
2018: Roaring Lion
Roaring Lion is the first favorite on our list of the last five winners to actually prevail on their status as a market leader. Trainer Gosden and jockey Oisin Murphy linked up for the ride. However, again there was nothing between the front two, with Roaring Lioncoming from behind inside the final 100 yards to edge O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior over the line by just a neck. The favorite’s victory marked a third triumph in the Eclipse for trainer Gosden and a first winning ride for jockey Murphy.
When you think of Gosden and Frankie Dettori’s amazing partnership over the years, Enable is one of the first horses that come to mind. And rightly so. Given that the Juddmonte Farms-owned horse won so many top-class races during her career, it was no surprise that Enableset off as the 4/6 favorite, and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed her narrow victory over O’Brien’s Magical, who was just three-quarters of a length behind with Moore in the saddle.
Enable was tipped to defend her Eclipse crown in last year’s behind-closed-doors renewal of the Group 1 race. However, Ghaiyyath, Buick, and Appleby had other ideas. The 9/4 shot set the pace at the front of the field from the off and when asked to kick on towards the finish, he pushed on well, holding off the challenges of Enable and Japan, who came home neck-and-neck around two lengths behind Ghaiyyath.
“He’s a joy to ride and a very, very good horse,” Buick said. “As a five-year-old, he’s matured physically and mentally – he’s becoming the finished article.
“I think a mile and a quarter will be his optimum trip – he’s very fast. Sometimes when you ride him over a mile and a half you’re always worried the last furlong is going to be a long one, but he keeps going.”