What You Need to Know About Eclipse Stakes (Handicap Races)

Handicap races

What You Need to Know About Eclipse Stakes (Handicap Races)

The popular Eclipse Stakes Race is a Group 3 category race held at the Sandown Racecourse every year. This year, the race will be held at the same racecourse on November 13.

Types of Races

Typically, there are four types of races held at Sandown Racecourse, and they consist of:

  • Sandown Classic: Held to cover a distance of up to 2400 metres.
  • Sandown Guineas: Held under set weights conditions to cover 1600 metres.
  • Sandown Stakes: Held under handicap conditions to cover 1500 metres.
  • Eclipse Stakes (the last race of the spring racing carnival): Held under handicap conditions to cover 1800 metres.

The Eclipse Stakes

This event is typically held under open handicap conditions that bring together a wide variety of horses to compete for a handsome amount of prize money. With a whopping $160,000 as prize money only last year, this race usually covers 1800 metres. In the beginning, this event used to be held after Sandown Classic Day but ever since 2011, it has since been moved before the Sandown Classic Day as the idea was to create a card with four group races.

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What Is a Handicap Race?

In the horse racing jargon, a handicap race is one where horses are made to carry different weights by the handicapper. The greater a horse’s strength, the heavier the weights they carry. The reason good horses are given heavier weights is to ensure that the slower horses get some advantage. When it comes to betting on a handicap race, you should be able to predict which horses are better suited to overcome their handicap.

Who Determines the Handicap of a Horse?

A professional handicapper is supposed to assign a rating to a horse after determining their ability. A person in charge here must watch every horse and see the level of ability they have showcased. For instance, if Horse 1 beats Horse 2 in over three races, then a handicapper can know that Horse 1 is better than Horse 2. This way, a handicapper assigns a higher rating to Horse 1 and a lower rating to Horse 2. Thus, when the same horses meet in a handicap, the gap in their ability becomes more even.

Winners of the Last Ten Years

Year Winners
2020 So Si Bon
2019 Pacodali
2018 Tally
2017 Payroll
2016 Turnitaround
2015 Casino Dancer
2014 Zabisco
2013 Mouro
2012 Éclair Surprise
2011 Rothera
2010 Viking Hero


One of the most tricky things about betting on a handicap race is that you can never have favourites. Compared to other grade races, handicaps tend to have a lower percentage of winning favourites. This is because you’ll generally have a hard time finding a handicap winner. Therefore, if you’re struggling to choose your runner, here are some tips to help you through the process.

Avoid Relying on Favourites

This must be one of the most important tips for betting on a handicap race like Eclipse Stakes. As we’ve already stated, favourites do not tend to perform well in a race of this nature. If you rely on them blindly, you’ll soon be parting ways with all of your hard-earned money.

Instead, you should look for alternatives. A general misconception most people have when betting is that they tend to choose horses that have won on their last start over those who haven’t won in a while. A horse that hasn’t won in the last few races may just be becoming well-handicapped as opposed to the one that may have won the last race and is probably going to become badly handicapped.

Find Out the Horse’s Last Winning Mark

The winning mark determines a lot when it comes to looking at a handicap. For example, if a horse is rated 65, but the last winning mark it had was 75, this horse should be more valuable than the one that had never won above 65 and is currently rated 72.

However, this doesn’t mean that every horse below the winning mark can succeed or every horse above the last mark cannot succeed. Exceptions exist in every situation, but the general rule should always be kept in mind.

Determine the Horse’s Running Style

Figuring out a horse’s style of running is the key factor that helps you bet right. There may be cases when a horse may not have held up on the last few starts but could win when prominent. There are horses you can predict, and there are horses you cannot predict.

The latter is always an interesting scenario because these types of horses use different than the usual tactics. You may also want to look deeper into a horse who generally likes being delivered late and buried in mid-division but has been front-running.

Determine the Class of Handicap

The class of handicap your horse of interest has been contesting is another area to look into. Therefore, you should look into horses that have recently dropped in class into a weaker company. This is because beating weaker horses off a large weight is often easier than beating good horses of a small weight.

For example, if a horse in class four company is 0-15 but 8-22 in class five company, then these statistics should always influence your betting. It’s possible for some horses to struggle in a certain class but succeed in one lower. Even though it’s usually difficult to catch such horses right, it’s always better to be with the class droppers than be against them.

In the end, no matter how many betting tips read online,it’s better to see the practicality of the situation, especially when it comes to handicap races. Many times, what may seem good in theory may not necessarily be good in practice and vice versa. Regardless, getting an edge in the market requires you to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of horse racing to the best of your ability.


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