St Mark’s Basilica gave Aidan O’Brien a record-equalling sixth victory in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.
Backed into even-money favourite the Ballydoyle horse is a half-brother to Magna Grecia. The eventual winner went into the lead entering the final furlong before extending impressively to win by three and a half-lengths from globe-trotting Group 1 winner Addeyyb. The John and Thady Gosden-trained Saudi Cup winner Mishriff was back in third.
“Ryan [Moore] was blown away by St Mark’s Basilica out there. He couldn’t believe when he asked him how well he quickened,” said winning trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“He is a relaxed traveller so he doesn’t use any energy. When he comes on he comes on slowly and when they do go for him he really turns it on. I think it is a mark of a good horse when they can quicken like that.
“He puts races to bed very quickly. He is progressing all the time. I think the Juddmonte or the Irish Champion will be next. He could do both as there is enough time between them.”
St Mark’s Baslica is by Siyouni out of Australian breeder Bob Scarborough’s 14-year-old Galileo mare Cabaret. He had previously won two French Classics this year, the 2000 Guineas and the Derby.
A winner over six furlongs at two, St Mark’s Basilica finished out his juvenile season with a win in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes (7f) at Newmarket last October.
Michael Tabor, who owns the Siyouni colt in partnership with Derek Smith and Sue Magnier, said:
“He’s just proved what a good horse he is, and having won the French Guineas and the French Derby and now this it’s onwards and upwards as they say. He always seemed comfortable and when Ryan let him go he was strong.
“He’s obviously up with there with the very best we’ve had, but it’s very difficult to compare years. It’s one step at a time and now he’s won we can sit down and enjoy thinking about where he goes next.”
Reaction from William Haggas and John Gosden
William Haggas, trainer of runner-up Addeyyb, said:
“He ran a fantastic race and stayed on really well. On ground that probably isn’t quite soft enough for him he showed that he’s still in very good form. He might go for the King George, but I’m not saying he will. He’s in it, but he’d need soft ground.”
Trainer John Gosden said of third home Mishriff:
“The winner was impressive but Mishriff will definitely come on for this race. The last half a furlong just caught him out a bit on this tiring ground but he has run a very good race. The ground came against him as it was a bit testing for him but he has run a great race and I’m happy with him.
Sixth win for Aidan O’Brien
The victory of St Mark’s Basilica in 2021 sees Aidan O’Brien join Sir Michael Stoute and Alec Taylor Jr as the most successful trainer in the Coral-Eclipse with six victories. O’Brien was also successful with Giant’s Causeway (2000), Hawk Wing (2002), Oratorio (2005), Mount Nelson (2006) and So You Think (2011). The Siyouni colt us the 15th winner trained in Ireland.
All of O’Brien’s winners were owned by Coolmore (made up of syndicates including combinations of Sue Magnier, Michel Tabor and Derrick Smith), who join Godolphin as the contests winning-most owner with six victories.