Coral Eclipse Day: Race List & Meeting Info

The Eclipse Stakes is always one of the most anticipated contests of the year as it offers us the first chance of the season to see the Classic generation of three-year-olds clash with their elders in this contest over a distance of one and a quarter miles at Sandown in July.

The race has been sponsored by Coral bookmakers since 1976 so is often referred to as the Coral-Eclipse. It has been won by a number of the true greats of the game over the years including Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Sea The Stars and Enable.

The Group 1 Eclipse is part of the seven race Eclipse day with each race also sponsored by Coral. There's also the Group 3 Sprint Stakes and the Listed Distaff and Marathon races alongside three handicaps over seven furlongs, one mile and one mile two furlongs.


Coral Eclipse Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Sprint Stakes (Coral Charge)  Group 3 5f 10y £39,697 3YO plus
Coral Challenge Handicap Class 2 1m £46,192 3YO plus
Coral Distaff Class 1 1m £22,684 3YO only
Coral-Eclipse Group 1 1m 1f 209y £448,363 3YO plus
Coral Handicap Class 3 7f £9,338 3YO only
Esher Stakes (Coral Marathon)  Listed 2m 50y £22,684 4YO plus
Coral Handicap Class 4 1m 1f 209y £6,469 3YO only

Sprint Stakes (Coral Charge) 

Group 3, 5f 10y

Known as the Coral Charge because of sponsorship by the British bookmaker Coral that started in 2009, the Sprint Stakes was a Listed race before being promoted to Group 3 in 2004. Scheduled to take place on the same day as the Eclipse Stakes it is, if you'll pardon the pun, regularly eclipsed by the bigger race but still well worth watching out for.

A race for horses aged three years of age and over, it is run on the straight over five furlongs and ten yards. The race has the following weight information attached to it:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares receive an allowance of 3 pounds
  • Group 1 race winners are given a penalty of 7 pounds
  • Group 2 race winners are given a penalty of 5 pounds
  • Group 3 race winners are given a penalty of 3 pounds

The records for the race only date back to 1986, but since then no horse has won the race more than once despite it being open to horses aged three and over. It's also not a race that any one jockey has particularly dominated, with Chris Rutter, Richard Hills, Frankie Dettori, Alex Greaves, Darryll Holland and Dane O'Neill all winning it twice apiece.

Interestingly it is also not a race that trainers have been able to dominate. Only four trainers have notched up two wins to date, with Ian Balding, Luca Cumani, Richard Hannon Senior and David Nicholls being the names on the winners' podium more often than any other. You could perhaps say that the Balding family stake a claim to being the event's most successful, given that Ian's son Andrew also trained the winner when Night Carnation won it in 2011.

Coral Challenge handicap

Class 2, 1m

A Class 2 event that is run over one mile, the Coral Challenge is a handicap race. It’s open to horses aged three and over and, because it’s a handicap, the handicapper decides how much weight each horse carries according to their ability. If the Going is Good to Firm then you can expect the race to last about three minutes and forty seconds.

Coral Distaff

Class 1, 1m

It's entirely fair to say that the Coral Eclipse Stakes and the Sprint Stakes are the two most important races of the day, but there are two others that have at least earned themselves a quick mention. The first of these is the Coral Distaff, which is another one of the day that is sponsored by the English betting company Coral.

Run over a distance of around a mile, it is limited to three-year-old fillies and was run for the first time in 2003. Obviously the 'Coral' part of the race's title is only because of sponsorship, with the race's official registered name being the Distaff Stakes. As a Listed race it is one that is still taken reasonably seriously by the racing world, just not quite as seriously as the others.

Even so, it is a decent opportunity for owners and trainers to give talented fillies a run out in a major meeting, which is why there's no shortage of talented jockeys that have ridden more than one winner in the event to date. Both Keiren Fallon and Frankie Dettori have crossed the finish line first with their steeds, whilst it's Ryan Moore who leads the way as the race's most successful jockey thanks to his three wins between 2007 and 2013.

It's a not dissimilar situation when it comes to the trainers, with big names like Andrew Balding, Henry Cecil and John Gosden having trained winners in the Distaff Stakes. The father and son team of Richard Hannon Junior and Richard Hannon Senior have one win each to their name, with William Haggas winning it twice in succession in 2018 and 2019. Yet it's Sir Michael Stoute who leads the way with four wins between 2003 and 2013, coming twice courtesy of Keiren Fallon and twice thanks to Ryan Moore.


Group 1, 1m 1f 209y

There's only one place to start and that is, naturally, with the race that the day itself is named in honour of. Whilst its registered name is the Eclipse Stakes, it is known to pretty much everyone in horse racing as the Coral-Eclipse thanks to the fact that the bookmakers Coral have sponsored the event since 1976. Run right-handed over one mile, one furlong and two hundred and nine yards, it is open to horses aged three and over and has the following weight information attached:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 11 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 7 pounds
  • Fillies and mares are given an allowance of 3 pounds

Inaugurated in 1886, the race is named in honour of the eighteenth century racehorse Eclipse who was much celebrated during that era. When it was established the prize money for it was offered by Leopold de Rothschild after it was requested by one of Sandown Park's founders, General Owen Williams. The £10,000 on offer made it the richest race in Britain at the time.

The race has always welcomed top-quality horses, with 1888's winner of The Derby, Ayrshire, winning it in 1889 and setting the tone for what was to follow. In 1903 the horses that finished in the top three positions were Ard Patrick, Sceptre and Rock Sand, who had won seven of the Classics between them. Even in the modern era that tradition still applies, with Enable winning the Epsom Oaks in 2017 and then being victorious here two years later.

At the time of writing five different horses have won the race more than once, with Orme doing so in 1892 and 1893, Buchan winning successive races in 1919 and 1920, Polyphontes achieving the same feat in 1924 and 1925, Mtoto in 1987 and 1988 and Halling pulling it off in 1995 and 1996. Unsurprisingly, horses that do well in this event tend to have performed impressively in at least one of the Classics, so they're the races to watch out for for clues about this one.

In terms of jockeys that have done well in the Eclipse Stakes, the likes of Charlie Smirke, Danny Maher and Harry Wragg have all notched up more than one win during their careers, amongst many others. Yet it's Lester Piggott who currently holds the record for the most wins here thanks to his seven wins between 1951 and 1977. In the modern era Frankie Dettori has won it on four occasions at the time of writing, carrying on from where his father left off as Gianfranco Dettori won the race on Wollow in 1976.

Entirely unsurprisingly for a race that was first run in 1886, there have been countless trainers that have seen horses that they've worked with win the race more than once. Even if you limit it to trainers with three or more winners there are still names such as Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, Frank Butters and Jack Jarvis on the list. Henry Cecil won four times during his life, as did John Gosden, whilst Noel Murless and John Porter both have five wins apiece to their names.

It's Alec Taylor Junior and Sir Michael Stoute that lead the way when it comes to success as trainers, however, with the former winning it six times between 1909 and 1923 and the latter earning the same number of wins from 1993 to 2017. The O'Brien family is able to rival them, seeing and though Vincent O'Brien won this race five times during his career and Aidan O'Brien has the same number of wins to his name at the time of writing.

Coral Handicap

Class 3, 7f

As with so many races that come after the main event in a day, there’s a risk of this being a little ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’. It’s a race for horses aged three with a rating of between 0 and 90, with the winner receiving just over £9,000 in prize money. Run over seven furlongs, it lasts for about a minute and a half when the Going is Good to Firm.

Esher Stakes (Coral Marathon)

Listed, 2m 50y

The other race worth telling you about is registered as the Esher Stakes, but it has also been run as the Coral Marathon as it is another one that takes place on the same day as the Eclipse Stakes that is sponsored by the betting firm Coral. Joe Coral, who founded the bookmaker after discovering the lucrativeness of having a patch on a racecourse, would likely be delighted to know that his firm's name is attached to so many interesting races!

The Esher Stakes was run for the first time in 2003 and takes place over a distance of two miles and around fifty yards. It's for horses aged four and over, making it a decidedly competitive race in the flat racing world. Flat racing tends to be dominated by younger horses, of course, which was why it was such a surprise when Persian Punch won the race in 2003 at the age of ten.

Despite being open to horses of any age above four, the relative youth of the race means that only one horse has won it more than once at the time of writing. Nearly Caught was successful in 2017 and again avoided being caught the year after for successive wins. During his career Persian Punch won races like the Goodwood Cup, Jockey Club Cup and Doncaster Cup, so perhaps they're the races to look towards if you're hoping to learn something from this event.

Whilst the likes of William Buick, Ryan Moore and James Doyle have all won the race more than once during their career, there's a standout jockey when it comes to the Esher Stakes. Frankie Dettori won the race for the first time in 2012 and then went on to win another three times up to and including his runout on Falcon Eight in 2019. Even more impressive when you consider that he'd won on the back of Enable in the Eclipse Stakes just two races before.

Andrew Balding, David Elsworth and Hughie Morrison have all won this race twice as trainers, but it's John Gosden that leads the way on that front with three wins to his name between 2004 and 2013.

Coral Handicap

Class 4, 1m 1f 209y

As with the other races run today, the day’s final event is sponsored by the bookmaker Coral. It’s run over one mile, one furlong and two hundred and nine yards, being open to horses aged three. They’ll need to have a rating of between 0 and 80 to take part in this Class 4 race, which offers prize money that is just shy of £6,500.


About the Coral Eclipse Day

Sandown Racecourse

There are surprisingly few races that are considered to be both important and attention grabbing enough to warrant a day named in their honour, but the Coral Eclipse Stakes is one of them. A Group 1 offering that is run at Sandown Park, the race is considered to be almost as prestigious as some of the Classics that dominate flat racing.

As with so many of the biggest races, though, it isn't the only one that is run during the day. In fact, Coral Eclipse Day sits in the middle of two days of brilliant racing at Sandown, with Ladies Day coming first and then followed up with a day that the Coral Eclipse sits in the middle of. We're concentrating on the main day here, so we'll look at the big race and those that surround it.