LONDON // Halling won nine of 12 races for Godolphin in 1995-96 and was one of the outstanding colts that helped put the Dubai-based operation on the racing map in Britain. Among those nine wins were two victories in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse at Sandown, which is run tomorrow at 6.20pm. Halling's success in Sandown's feature flat race sparked a brief love affair for Godolphin with the extended 1m 2f contest. Daylami led home a 1-2-3 for them in 1998, and Xaar bravely went down by a neck the following year to Compton Admiral.
Although a rocky patch followed, Refuse To Bend was the last runner to win in the Eclipse in 2004. Since 1993 no fewer than 12 winners of the Eclipse have been supplied by the trainers Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O'Brien and Godolphin's own Saeed bin Suroor.If you also include Henry Cecil, who won the Eclipse three times between 1969 and 1978, that makes it four trainers from traditional powerbases.
Cecil has entered two, with the Khalid Abdullah-owned colt Phoenix Tower spearheading his attack and Multidimensional in the line-up on merit, not as a pacemaker. Stoute is similarly mob-handed with Rob Roy and the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed-owned Maraahel, who finished third to MacArthur in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot two weeks ago. O'Brien bids for his 12th Group 1 race of the season and unlike in last weekend's Irish Derby at the Curragh, where he ran five horses, he relies on just one at the Esher track. Mount Nelson has failed to enter the winners' enclosure for almost two years since scoring on good-to-soft ground in the Criterium at Saint Cloud in France in October 2006.
Godolphin also have entered two in tomorrow's clash. Impressive Royal Ascot winner Campanologist, the only three-year-old in line-up, leads the charge, while Literato, who has been so disappointing this season, also makes the cut. Ten years on from Godolphin's domination of the Eclipse, it would be nice to think that these two horses can pair up to ignite Saeeed bin Suroor's special relationship again with this race.