Eclipse (horse)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eclipse (horse) .jpg
Eclipse, portrait by George Stubbs
Race: English blood
Father: Marske
Mother: Spiletta
Mother, father: Regulus
Gender: stallion
Year of birth: 1764
Year of death: 1789
Country: England
Colour: Fox
Breeder: Wilhelm August, Duke of Cumberland
Owner: Dennis O'Kelly
Record: 18 starts: 18 wins

Infobox last modified on: December 7th, 2007.

Eclipse ( April 1, 1764 - February 27, 1789 ) was an English racehorse . The chestnut stallion should be a progenitor of the English thoroughbred horse breed . His shoulder height ( stick measure ) was about 1.60 m - according to the English measure 63 inches - a large racehorse at that time, now a rather small racehorse.

Eclipse has been repeatedly portrayed by George Stubbs, famous for his realistic paintings of horses.


Eclipse is from Marske ad Spiletta from Regulus . Marske had won the Jockey Club Plate (100 guineas ), but was not considered the best racehorse of his generation, Spiletta did not contest a race. According to recent research, Shakespeare could also be the possible father of Eclipse. The maternal great-grandfather (technically: the third father in the maternal line) was Godolphin Barb , who is considered one of the founding fathers of the English thoroughbred breed. Godolphin Arabian is from the Middle East, the exact country of origin is not certain. The stallion, born around 1724, belonged to a group of horses that the Bey of Tunis gave to the French King Louis XV. gave. The stallion apparently found no favor at the French court and came into the possession of the Englishman Edward Coke, who took him over as a sire for his stud in Derbyshire .

Direct paternal ancestor is Darley Arabian . The Arab stallion was probably born in Syria in 1700 and exported by the English merchant Thomas Darley in 1704 to Aldby Park , Buttercrambe in North Yorkshire, England , where he was used as a sire on the Darley family estate. Flying Childers was the most successful direct descendant of this stallion. Bleeding Childers , the third sire in the paternal line, is the full brother of this stallion and never ran because he began to bleed from his nostrils when he tried harder. While Flying Childers was at the stud of the Duke of Devonshire after completing his racing career and almost exclusively covered mares owned by the Duke, a number of breeders had their mares covered by Bleeding Childers, because Bleeding Childers not only descended from the same parents, but also comparatively low stud fees.


Eclipse got its name after the ring-shaped solar eclipse ( English eclipse = "solar eclipse") that occurred on his traditional birthday (and previously calculated by Nicole Lepaute ).

Eclipse was bred by the English Duke of Cumberland Wilhelm August , a son of King George II. After the Duke's death (1765), Eclipse was sold to the breeder William Wildeman for 75 guineas. After his second victory in a race (May 1769), the Irish adventurer Colonel Dennis O'Kelly showed great interest and bought Eclipse in two steps (50 percent in June 1769 for 650 guineas, 50 percent in April 1770 for 1,100 guineas). From 1771, Eclipse stopped racing because no one wanted to bet on another horse as soon as it appeared at the starting point of a race. From now on he was used in breeding.

Eclipse died of complications from colic at the age of 24 . An unusually large heart was discovered during his autopsy, which served as the reason for his outstanding racing performance. His prepared skeleton can be seen today at the National Horse Museum in Newmarket . However, the authenticity of the skeleton is controversial. It is believed that these are only partly original bones.

Life as a racehorse

On May 3, 1769, Eclipse took part in a horse race for the first time in Epsom , which he won by a large margin from the rest of the field. Eclipse remained undefeated in all of its 18 races, eleven of these races were so-called "King's Plates", important breeding races in today's terms. He won seven of these “King's Plates” on his own (so-called “walk over”). Eclipse also set records. However, one must not always believe the traditional times, such as B. the 6:04 min in a race over 7190 m, this time could be a shift in numbers, because 9:04 min is to be seen as a realistic time for this distance. Since Eclipse won almost every race, the judge's verdict was often: “ Eclipse the first, the rest nowhere! “(Eclipse first, the rest nowhere!) - that is, the opponents had not even reached the distance post about 240 yards from the target when Eclipse crossed the finish line. His opponents were thus summarized under "also ran", whereby the further order of the finish no longer played a role.


It is unclear how many foals Eclipse sired. The numbers range from 335 to 344 up to 400. What is certain, however, is that his direct descendants in England won 862 races worth £ 158,047, an immensely high prize money in terms of today's monetary value. Three of his offspring won the derby . These were Young Eclipse (1781), Saltram (1783) and Sergeant (1784). Also Pot-8-os , another son of Eclipse, was an extremely successful racehorse. Surprisingly, he was never a champion father horse from England, in this annual ranking he came second eleven times, mostly behind Herod . Today, however, more than 90% of all living thoroughbreds descend in a direct male line from Eclipse. It appears a few 100 times in complete pedigrees of these horses. In contrast, the male lines of Herod and Matchem, the more successful father horses during Eclipse's lifetime, have almost died out. However, these stallions can be found in the complete pedigree of today's thoroughbreds as often as Eclipse.

The most important common characteristics of his offspring were irritability, but also speed and precociousness - in this respect he was a very modern sire by today's thoroughbred standards.

The derby winners produced by Eclipse were not the great sires. Rather, these were Pot-8-Os (1773), Joe Andrew (1778) and Mercury (1778). Of these, Pot-8-Os was again the most important. The strange-looking name comes from the fact that the groom who was supposed to write the name on the horse's box door did not know Potato and wrote what he understood.


Pedigree of Eclipse, Fuchs, 1764
Marske (GB)
Bleeding Childers
Darley Arabian
Betty Leedes
Sister to Old Country Wench Snake *
Gray Wilkes
The Ruby Mare Blacklegs Hutton's Bay Turk
Coneyskins mare
Bay bolton mare Bay Bolton
Fox cub mare
Spilletta (GB)
Godolphin Arabian
circa 1724
Gray Robinson Soon Galloway
Sister to Old Country Wench
Mother Western Easby Snake Snake *
Akaster Turk mare
Old Montagu mare Old Montagu
Skin boy mare


  • Christopher McGrath: Mr. Darley's Arabian - High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in Twenty-Five Horses . John Murray, London 2016, ISBN 978-1-84854-984-5 .

Web links

Commons : Eclipse (horse)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Single receipts

  1. McGrath: Mr. Darley's Arabian . Chapter "The most esteemed race amongst the Arrabs both by Syre and Dam" , E-Book position 333.
  2. Thoroughbreds with clear family relationships. In: ORF ON Science. Retrieved November 25, 2017 .
  3. 95% of thoroughbreds linked to one superstud. In: New Scientist. September 6, 2005, accessed December 14, 2018 .
  4. Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Lister's Turk Retrieved 2011-08-21