Boasting a healthier bankroll than he did opening the year, Mishriff returns from his post-Saudi Cup, post-Dubai respite on Saturday to headline a field of seven in the Group 1 Eclipse at Sandown Park in England.
The top-ranked horse in the world, according to the Longines rankings, Mishriff comes into the 1 ¼-mile race as the 13/8 favorite. He does so looking for his third Group 1 victory of 2021, seeking validation for his Saudi Cup victory over American standouts Charlatan and Knicks Go, and his Dubai Sheema Classic win a month later.
And he does so in a race with several milestones. The Eclipse forms part of the British Champions Series, which includes 35 races over five divisions, culminating in Champions Day at Ascot in October. One of the Middle Distance Division races, the Eclipse also marks the first time 3-year-olds take on their elders. Until now, sophomores were limited to running against their age group in such races as the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Coronation Stakes.
At one time, the Eclipse – named after the iconic 18th-century stallion who won all 18 of his races – was Britain’s richest race. It no longer holds that title, but does offer a healthy £600,000 purse.
Mishriff banked $12.9 million in 2021
Mishriff is playing with house money. His $10 million payday for winning February’s Saudi Cup, and his $2.9 million haul for capturing the Dubai Sheema Classic on the Dubai World Cup undercard, already make him the envy of the racing world.
The son of Make Believe has made true believers out of horseplayers. He comes into the Eclipse on a two-race winning streak and owns five victories in his last six races, dating to his Prix du Jockey Club win at Chantilly nearly a year ago. Mishriff is 6-1-1 in his 10 career races and his favorite status for Saturday’s race was burnished when stablemate Lord North bowed out with a throat infection.
That leaves this year’s Prix du Jockey Club winner, St. Mark’s Basilica, as Mishriff’s closest pursuer, according to the bookmakers. One of three Aidan O’Brien entries, St. Mark’s Basilica sits at 7/4 by race sponsor Coral.
O’Brien sends out three in quest of Eclipse No. 6
O’Brien also sends out Japan and Armory, who finished third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot two weeks ago. A victory by one of O’Brien’s trio would give the Irish trainer his sixth Eclipse winner, tying him with Alec Taylor Jr. and Sir Michael Stoute. O’Brien hasn’t captured an Eclipse in 10 years.
The other serious threat to Mishriff comes from Addeybb, last seen winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Australia’s Randwick in April. The 7-year-old gelding seeks two things: his favored soft turf, which would enhance his chances at a victory, and to become the oldest winner in event history.