St Mark’s Basilica put up a hugely impressive display to beat top-class older horses Addeybb and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. Winning his fourth successive Group One race, St Mark’s Basilica was giving trainer Aidan O’Brien a sixth Eclipse triumph.
One of two three-year-olds in a field of four for the Coral-Eclipse; he arrived with a serious claim for already being the best colt of his generation possibly in an argument with Jim Bolger’s crack miler Poetic Flare. However; St Mark’s Basilica had beaten Bolger’s teak-tough colt in the French Guineas and subsequently added the French Derby to the Dewhurst which he won last season; so the only Siyouni colt in O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable came with a smart CV.
He faced by far his toughest test to date; though, with William Haggas’ Champion Stakes winner Addeybb, a multiple Group One winner in Australia, and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff, last year’s French Derby winner who had also won on dirt in Saudi Arabia and the Sheema Classic in Dubai; in opposition.
It was not the fact that St Mark’s Basilica won in receipt of 10lb many thought he would and he was sent off the even-money favorite. It was more the ease with which he did it; by three and a half lengths and displaying an electric turn of foot that had O’Brien reaching for the superlatives.
O’ Brien said:
“We came here today taking on two proper older horses, they weren’t middle of the road horses, so it was pressure time as he would have been exposed if he wasn’t very good; “They didn’t go very fast and he gave the two older horses first run, but he quickened up and put it to bed very quickly. He’s just a lovely horse, lovely nature, does everything right and is a true professional. I’m over the moon.”
Watch St Mark’s Basilica winning the race
Coral Eclipse Stakes History
The event is named after Eclipse, a celebrated 18th-century racehorse. It was established in 1886, and the inaugural running was won by Bendigo. At that time, it was Britain’s richest ever race. The prize fund of £10,000 was donated by Leopold de Rothschild at the request of General Owen Williams; a co-founder of Sandown Park.
The Eclipse Stakes was contested by high-quality fields from its inception. It was won by Ayrshire, the previous year’s Derby winner, in 1889. The first three finishers in 1903 — Ard Patrick, Sceptre and Rock Sand — had won seven Classics between them.
The race has been sponsored by Coral since 1976, and it is now familiarly known as the “Coral-Eclipse”. The most recent Classic winner to achieve victory was Enable, the 2017 Epsom Oaks winner, in 2019.
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