Run at Sandown on the first Saturday in June The Coral Eclipse is the first opportunity that the three year olds get a chance to take on their elders in a middle distance championship race.
The 2015 running was initially dubbed as the battle of the Derby winners, with the last two years French Derby victors in the line up in the form of The Grey Gatsby and New Bay and this seasons scintillating Epsom winner Golden Horn taking his place.
The week before the race though this changed with the Andre Fabre trained New Bay declared a non runner by connections. Some people started to crab the line up as only five were left declared come the day. It was really a victim of circumstance though with New Bay not working that well and Al Kazeem injured earlier in the year when scoring in Irelands Tattersalls Gold Cup, both a loss to any race.
Opposing Golden Horn however was the admirable The Grey Gatsby himself a multiple grooup 1 winner and conqueror of previous years Derby winner Australia, John Gosden's Western Hymn was unbeaten in two starts at the track, Cougar Mountain, Aidan O'Briens selected and the consistent Tullius who himself was a scorer in the Sandown Mile the previous season.
Before the race all of the runners looked a picture. Cougar Mountain in first time blinkers didn't look revved up by them at all as he walked round the pre parade with his head bowed most of the time, whereas The Grey Gatsby was full of life initially jumping around as he entered the ring before settling down (a bit).
The Gosden runners though were the ones everyone had gone to see, Golden Horn in particular. They however were still tucked away in the stable block, bypassing the pre parade ring altogether (Not pleasing some spectators) before heading into the ampitheatre that is Sandown Park's parade ring.
Golden Horn looked relaxed as he walked around with his lad Michael Curran keeping a watchful eye on him.
The runners paraded down infront of the stands before cantering up the hill and down the back straight to the famous start. There was a sonse of anticipation in the stands with a number of punters in The Grey Gatsby corner telling each other why and how he was going to topple the favourite.
The stalls went back and all eyes were on the race. Frankie seemed to miss half a beat, but the early pace wasn't break neck and he was soon bustled up the inside to be settled infront after a furlong. Jamie Spencer alive to this settled in second on the Grey.
In the press Frankie Dettori had said that he was not afraid to make the running reminding everyone that Golden Horn was a Derby winner and once there he wasn't going to crawl. Turning out of the back straight the pace seemed to lift with the front two stealing three lengths on their rivals, it was here that Jamie Spencer moved early and brought The Grey Gatsby alongside passing the pond.
Down to two out and the cheers started to go up, The Grey Gatsby supporters sensing their chance. Frankie was at work on the favourite changing his hands and getting lower in the sadddle and all was set for the head to head battle to the line. Then the complexion of the race changed. Approaching the furlong the whip was drawn on Golden Horn and he lengthened his Derby winning stride and "broke the heart" of the challenger sending his supporters into ecstacy as they watched him draw further and further clear. Dettori punching the air in delight as he passed the Coral sponsored winning post three and half lengths to the good.
The Derby winner had won emulating horses such as Mill Reef, Nashwan and Sea the Stars who had done the double and in the process earning a rating of 130, which as an unbeaten Derby and Eclipse winner seems.
A step back up in trip for the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25th is now reportedly on the cards and a clash with the Abdullah duo Snow Sky and Flintshire is eagerly anticipated.