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Eclipse (horse)

Eclipse (by George Stubbs)
Sire Marske
Dam Spilletta
Grandsire Squirt
Damsire Regulus
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1764
Country Great Britain
Color Chestnut
Breeder Duke of Cumberland
Owner William Wildman
Dennis O'Kelly
Trainer Sullivan
Record 18:18-0-0 (plus 7 heats)[1]
Earnings 2,149 guineas
Eclipse is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Spilletta by Marske. He was born around 1764 in Great Britain, and was bred by Duke of Cumberland.
Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park (GB)
Prix Eclipse at Maisons-Laffitte (France)
The Eclipse Awards (USA)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on 7 August 2009

Eclipse (1 April 1764–26 February 1789) was an outstanding, undefeated 18th-century British Thoroughbred racehorse who was later a phenomenal success as a sire.

He was born during and named after the solar eclipse of 1 April 1764, at the Cranbourne Lodge Stud of his breeder, Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.[2] It was at this stud that his sire, Marske (by Squirt from The Ruby Mare) stood, his dam, Spiletta (foaled 1749) was by Regulus, by the Godolphin Arabian. After the death of Prince William in 1765, Eclipse was sold for 75 guineas to a sheep dealer from Smithfield, William Wildman.

The life story of Eclipse inspired the novel O'Kelly's Eclipse by screenwriter Arthur Weiss.


Racing record

Eclipse started racing at the age of five on 3 May 1769 in Epsom.[3] Supposedly, at this time Captain Denis O'Kelly used the famous phrase "Eclipse first and the rest nowhere," before making his bets for this race. At that time, a horse that was more than 240 yards behind the lead was said to be nowhere. His jockey was John Oakley, supposedly the only jockey who could handle Eclipse's temperamental manner and running style of holding his nose very close to the ground. Eclipse won the race easily. Captain Denis O'Kelly later purchased a half share in Eclipse for 650 guineas in 1769. Later still O'Kelly paid 1,000 guineas for the other half share.[3]

Eclipse won 18 races, including 11 King's Plates, supposedly without ever being fully extended and proving far superior to all competition.[3] During this time he raced over 63 miles and walked 1,400 miles to race meetings across England.[1]

Stud record

In 1771, Eclipse was retired to stud after a racing career of about 17 months due to lack of competition as nobody was betting on competing horses. Initially he stood at O'Kelly's Clay Hill Stud, near Epsom (Surrey), for a fee of 10 guineas which rose rapidly 25 and then to 50 guineas a mare. During 1788, he was relocated to Cannons Stud, Edgware (Middlesex).[3]

Overall, Eclipse sired 344 winners of over ₤158,000[4] (although the number varies with different reports, ranging from 325 to 400) before he died.[3] He sired famous horses such as Annette (Epsom Oaks), Young Eclipse (Epsom Derby), Saltram (Epsom Derby), Volunteer, Sergeant (Epsom Derby), Pot-8-os, King Fergus, Mercury, Joe Andrews, Alexander, Don Quixote, and Pegasus. The Royal Veterinary College has determined that nearly 80% of modern Thoroughbred racehorses have Eclipse in their pedigree (other sources state 90%)[1]

Eclipse died due to a colic on 26 February 1789, at the age of 24. His skeleton is now housed at the Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire, in the Learning Resource Centre named after him, although it cannot be said for certain whether all the bones displayed are really from Eclipse. His hooves were made into inkstands, although the fact that there are at least five Eclipse-hoof inkstands casts some doubt about the authenticity of some. Hairs from his tail have also been used for decorations.[5]

Eclipse is still remembered in the phrase "Eclipse first and the rest nowhere", referring to any dominating victory. This phrase is occasionally seen in American print media (most often in newspaper sport sections), but is more common in Great Britain.

Nicholas Clee's Eclipse: The Story of the Rogue, the Madam and the Horse That Changed Racing (2009) is a biography of Eclipse and of the people connected to him, among them the gambler Dennis O'Kelly and the brothel madam Charlotte Hayes. Other biographies of Eclipse include Michael Church's Eclipse: The Horse, The Race, The Awards (2000), and Theodore Cook's 1907 book Eclipse and O'Kelly.


Pedigree of Eclipse
Marske br. 1750
ch. 1732
Bartlet's Childers Darley Arabian
Betty Leedes
Sister to Old Country Wench (1715) Snake
Grey Wilkes
The Ruby Mare Blacklegs Hutton's Bay Turk
Coneyskins Mare
Bay Bolton Mare Bay Bolton
Fox Cub Mare
Spilletta b. 1749
b. 1739
Godolphin Arabian (unknown)
Grey Robinson Bald Galloway
Sister to Old Country Wench (1713)
Mother Western
Easby Snake Snake
Akaster Turk Mare
Old Montagu Mare Old Montagu
Hautboy Mare (F-No.12)


The Eclipse Awards are American Thoroughbred horse-racing awards named after Eclipse. They honour the champions of the sport, and are sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association, who select all finalists at the end of the year. The most prestigious of these Awards is the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year title.

Eclipse Press is the book-publishing division of Blood-Horse Publications, an international publishing house for top Thoroughbred and general equine magazines, books, videos, CD-ROMs and annual references.

The Eclipse Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in the United Kingdom for three-year-old and above Thoroughbreds run over a distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs and 7 yards (2,018 metres) at Sandown Park.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse is a compact sport coupé manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ahnert, Rainer L. (editor in chief), “Thoroughbred Breeding of the World”, Pozdun Publishing, Germany, 1970
  2. Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Eclipse Retrieved on 2009-8-7
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Montgomery, E.S, “The Thoroughbred”, Arco, New York, 1973 ISBN 0-668-02824-6
  4. Barrie, Douglas M., The Australian Bloodhorse, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1956
  5. TB Heritage - Eclipse Retrieved on 2009-8-7

External links


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