The Coral-Eclipse Day at Sandown Park Racecourse is just around the corner, and already bookmakers are working out which horse is in with the best shot.
At the moment, the uncontested favorite is Emily Upjohn. This impressive filly has made light work out of her last two races and has unquestionable form over a mile and two furlongs. Does she have what it takes to win the Eclipse and deserve her short price?
What Makes A Winner?
To understand what it takes to win the Coral-Eclipse, it’s important to look back at the horses who have triumphed before.
In 2022, Vadeni took the crown, winning by a neck to Mishriff. Previously, he’d won a Group 3 in France and the Prix du Jockey Club (a competitive Group 1 race).
It’s clear from both Vadeni’s form and the winners of the Coral-Eclipse in previous years that a Group 1 win is almost necessary to take the Eclipse. In fact, of the 22 Coral-Eclipse Stakes run so far in this century, 19 of the winners already had Group 1 wins under their belt.
Unquestionably, these horses need class to win; another example of this is the fact that almost all of the last ten winners have had an official rating of 120 or higher.
It’s also rare for a surprise winner to come to the front in this race; bookmakers have an excellent track record regarding their predictions for the Coral-Eclipse. Almost without exception, the favourite or second favourite has won in all of the last ten races.
How Emily Upjohn’s Form Stacks Up
Emily Upjohn is already the favorite, running as short as 5/4 on some betting sites, but does she deserve this price? If we look back at previous winners, she certainly fits most of the criteria: she’s won not just one Group 1 race but two (both of which are her most recent). She’s had a previous win at Sandown, which bodes well, as the climb up the back straight can be a challenge to horses who aren’t used to it.
Whilst it’s indisputable that Emily Upjohn has class, she’s rated considerably lower than many of the previous winners. Currently, her official rating is just 116, which is low for a horse with three group wins under her belt. However, she suffered a crushing defeat at Ascot last July after tailing off from the group in a display of unusually poor form, which even her trainer had no explanation for.
It will be fascinating to see how she fares in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, as this race is often a good predictor of success in the Eclipse. In fact, five horses have won this race in recent years and gone on to take the Coral-Eclipse on their next outing.
Whether you think Emily Upjohn is the classic example of an Eclipse winner or not, it can’t be denied that her odds are unattractively short. Thankfully, plenty of free horse bet deals are floating around at the moment, making her price less of an issue. When you’re not wagering your own money, you can afford to bet on those horses with the shorter odds.
Ace Impact’s Chances
Whilst Emily Upjohn certainly looks as though she has every chance of taking the title, there are a handful of horses who are going to make her job considerably more difficult. One of those horses is Ace Impact. This gutsy bay colt has won every single one of his starts, including the Prix du Jockey Club on his last time out. If you’ve been following closely, you’ll remember that last year’s winner Vadeni also won this race before securing victory. It tends to be a good indication of a horse’s chance in the Eclipse, and it’s always an excellent indicator of class.
As well as the Prix du Jockey Club, Ace Impact also won another mile and two furlong race before this in the listed race the Prix de Suresnes. This ended up being a strong field, so to win by more than a length was a great feat.
If there’s anything for potential betters to be concerned about with Ace Impact, it might be how well he takes to travelling. So far the colt has only run in France as he is trained there. Some horses are totally unaffected by travelling to a different country, for others it can take some of the wind out of their sales. If Ace Impact travels well then he should have no trouble giving Emily Upjohn a run for her money.
Could Adayar Take The Title?
Adayar has a couple more years of form under his belt and this could stand him in good stead for the Eclipse. He hasn’t had the most exciting start to 2024, but his upcoming run in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes could cement him as a favorite going into the race. With that said, he has secured a Group 3 win so far, in the Gordon Richards Stakes, but nothing that surpasses his victory at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot in 2021.
This win was outstanding and should be enough to silence any doubters. He never left the tails of the leaders and won galloping away from them, truly looking as though he was ready to go around again.
When you combine that with his win in the Cazoo Derby shortly before that, you would be forgiven for thinking that the horse would go on to be unbeatable. He was one of the classiest horses of that summer and if he can return to anything like his old form, then he ought to be able to leave the competition in the dust.
He has come close once before on his only outing at Sandown in the bet365 Classic Trial and it’s looking as though ground conditions could be similar to this. As he’s running over the same distance as then, he’d only have to find that extra length to be able to get his nose in front.