Total Eclipse by St Mark’s has special place in O’Brien’s affections

St Mark’s Basilica pulls away from Addeybb and Mishriff (Nigel French/PA)

By Nick Robson, PA

No one has won the Coral-Eclipse more than Aidan O’Brien, with seven victories already on his ever-expanding record of achievement.

With the likes of Giant’s Causeway, Hawk Wing, So You Think and Paddington on the Ballydoyle winner’s list, it is exalted company.

However, O’Brien feels St Mark’s Basilica’s 2021 success over Addeybb – a triple Australian Group One winner and Champion Stakes victor – and Mishriff – a French Derby, Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International scorer – puts him right up there.

“I suppose St Mark’s Basilica was very impressive, I thought,” said O’Brien when the question was posed of his best Eclipse winner ahead of City Of Troy’s run at Sandown this weekend.

“I remember going there that there were two very impressive older horses in the race (Mishriff and Addeybb) to contend with, both very highly rated, but he treated them with total contempt, really.

“I remember thinking that on the day so he would be the one that stands out the most.

“Obviously Paddington was very good last year, too, but St Mark’s Basilica was different when he beat those two older horses at that time, I thought.”

The strength of O’Brien’s Coolmore bosses was heavily built upon the success of Sadler’s Wells as a stallion, and it is 40 years since the Vincent O’Brien-trained colt won the Eclipse as a three-year-old under Pat Eddery.

O’Brien’s memories of the horse are from his childhood, but he is well aware of his place in history.

Sadler's Wells (rail) beat Time Charter in the 1984 Coral-Eclipse
Sadler’s Wells (rail) beat Time Charter in the 1984 Coral-Eclipse (PA)

“I was only a boy at the time and when I was looking through the brochures from Coolmore while I was in school and I remember watching the pictures of Sadler’s Wells running, he used to carry his head a little bit to one side and even though he was doing that he was always very genuine,” said O’Brien.

“I suppose he was the first horse at the time I was unusually fascinated by and I would have only been very young at the time.

“Obviously when we started training our first Guineas (King Of Kings) and first Derby winner (Galileo) were by Sadler’s Wells and he was very much down the road, it was after already having something like five Oaks winners and he was already established as the most unbelievable stallion.

“The Eclipse, prestige-wise, is very important to a horse’s CV.”

Jiong He
Author: Jiong He