Friday, 22 April 2022


Nowadays, Galileo, by Sadler’s Wells out of Urban Sea, is best known as a champion sire. Indeed, in 2017, he was named leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland for the ninth time in ten years, with 12 Group 1 winners, including Classic winners Churchill and Winter, and just under £12 million in prize money. Since 2012, he has stood exclusively at Coolmore Stud, Co. Tipperary, for a “private” fee, which is reputed to be in excess of €400,000.

In a racing career lasting exactly a year and a day, Galileo won six of his eight races, including the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in 2001, and earned over £1.6 million in prize money. He raced just once as a juvenile, winning his maiden, over a mile, at Leopardstown, by 14 lengths from subsequent winner Taraza. He reappeared in the Listed Ballysax Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at the Co. Dublin course the following April when, at odds of 1/3, he made short work of stable companion – and future St. Leger winner – Milan, winning easily by 3½ lengths. He stepped up in class for the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over the same course and distance less than a month later but, although he had to work a little harder for victory, he stayed on strongly to beat Exaltation by 1½ lengths.

As an unbeaten colt with a top pedigree, owned by Mrs John Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien, it was really no surprise that Galileo started joint favourite, at 11/4, for the Derby at Epsom. His main market rival, Golan, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was also unbeaten and already a Classic winner, having beaten Tamburlaine in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the previous month. Nevertheless, it was Galileo who prevailed, leading inside the final quarter of a mile and drawing clear for an impressive 3½-length win over Golan, with Tobougg a never-nearer third, beaten a further neck. Galileo earned a Timeform rating of 132, making him one of the best Derby winners since the turn of the century, alongside Authorized and Workforce.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Eclipse Stakes

Named after Eclipse, an undefeated champion thoroughbred of the eighteenth century, the Eclipse Stakes has been sponsored by bookmaker Coral since 1976, making it the longest-running Pattern race in Britain. Inaugurated in 1886, the Coral-Eclipse, as the race is popularly known nowadays, is run over an advertised distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs, or 1 mile, 1 furlong and 209 yards to be exact, at Sandown Park in early July each year. The Coral-Eclipse is open to horses aged three years and upwards and, as such, offers the first chance for the so-called 'Classic' generation to race against their elders at the highest, Group 1 level.

Several horses have won the Coral-Eclipse twice, the most recent of them being Halling, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, who recorded back-to-back victories in 1995 and 1996. Lester Piggott remains the leading jockey in the history of the race, with seven wins between 1951 and 1957. Early twentieth century trainer Alec Taylor, Jr. and Sir Michael Stoute are jointly the leading trainers, with six wins apiece.

In recent seasons, the Coral-Eclipse has been won by such luminaries of the sport as Sea The Stars (2009), Golden Horn (2015), Enable (2019) and Ghaiyyath (2020). It is no coincidence that all four of the aforementioned quartet were named Cartier Horse of the Year in their respective years. Indeed, the Coral-Eclipse has always attracted the crème de la crème of middle-distance talent. The roll of honour includes Ballymoss, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Dancing Brave and Nashwan, to name but a handful.