Eclipse Remarkably, Eclipse, who died from colic at the age of 24 in 1789, features in the paternal line of 95% of modern thoroughbred racehorses including, albeit 19 generations later, Frankel. Like his illustrious descendant – who, in 2012, became the highest rated horse in the history of World Thoroughbred Rankings – Eclipse completely dominated his contemporaries and remained unbeaten throughout his career, which lasted 18 months and a total of 18 races. However, unlike Frankel – who topped the world rankings as a two, three and four-year-old – did not make his racecourse debut until he was five years old.

Bred by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, Eclipse was acquired by Smithfield cattle salesman William Wildman at a dispersal sale following the death of the Duke, in 1765, and made his racecourse debut in the ‘Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Plate’ at Epsom four years later. An effortless win in the first heat of that four-mile contest prompted Irish-born opportunist Denis O’Kelly to famously proclaim that the result of the second heat would be ‘Eclipse first, and the rest nowhere’. Eclipse did, as predicted, pass the post before any of his rivals had reached the distance marker and O’Kelly immediately parted with 650 guineas for a half-share in the horse.

Thereafter, Eclipse won a further seven races against the best horses of the day , without coming under even the slightest pressure, before O’Kelly bought him outright for 1,100 guineas and transferred him to his stables at Clay Hill, Epsom. Further success followed, with no fewer than eleven victories in versions of the ‘King’s Plate’, run as far afield as Canterbury, Lewes, Newmarket and Winchester. Indeed, Eclipse reportedly walked 1,000 miles or more between races during his career. By the end of his career, Eclipse had proved himself the best horse of his generation so convincingly that he regularly frightened off the opposition and ‘walked over’. In fact, the lack of viable competition hastened his retirement from racing. Notwithstanding his staggering influence on modern bloodstock, Eclipse is commemorated by the Group One Coral-Eclipse Stakes, which has been run annually, over a mile and a quarter, at Sandown Park since 1886.

Grand National 2021

In these tough times, for many of us it’s been sport that’s kept us sane this past year. Thankfully life in that area (at least with professional sport) returned to some kind of normality a while back now. Sad though it was to have to put up with a ‘Virtual Grand National’ in 2020, thankfully in 2021 we get to experience the real thing. This year bring us a short 4-1 favourite for a change in Cloth Cap , with Any Second Now and Burrows Saint currently joint second favourites at 10-1.

Three female jockeys take part in the 2021 Grand National, demonstrating how far we’ve come since the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (just a stones throw away when you think about it). With Rachael Blackmore, Bryony Frost and Tabitha Worsley all in the mix, could it be the year of the first female jockey winner? In the above video, Betway Racing, with Katie Walsh takes us through the history of women in the Grand National. Interestingly Walsh herself has had the best showing so far of all 16 past female jockeys in the event, coming third on SeaBass in 2012.

A Bumper Week of Festival Action!

Here are we go to quite some lengths to highlight the cream of the crop of UK racing and of course the racecourses where the magic happens. With that in mind there can surely be no better combination of talent and track than the jewel in the racing crown that is the Cheltenham Festival. With four days of unrivalled racing action featuring the likes of Al Boum Photo, Honeysuckle, Thyme Hill and Native River, let’s hit the ground running on this event with the ‘Betway Bumper’ racing themed Gameshow. How knowledgeable are our top Premier League footballers when it comes to racing I wonder?