Nashwan Nashwan was bred and owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, in whose famous blue and white colours he raced, trained by Major Dick Hern in West Isley, Berkshire and ridden, exclusively, by Willie Carson. The son of Blushing Groom is probably best remembered for his 5-length defeat of 500/1 outsider Terimon in the Derby in 1989, but also had the distinction of being the first horse since Nijinksy, in 1970, to complete the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double. He also remains the only horse ever to win the first two colts’ Classics, plus the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same season.

Foaled on March 1, 1986, Nashwan raced twice as a juvenile, winning a well-contested maiden stakes race, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury on his debut in August, 1988 and following up in the Listed Autumn Stakes, over a mile, at Ascot two months later. He reappeared in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, for which he started 3/1 favourite. Always prominent, he took the lead with two furlongs to run and, although strongly challenged by Exbourne, Danehill and Markofdistinction, quickened again close home to win by a length.

Following his well-chronicled win in the Derby, Nashwan took on the older horses for the first time in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, again winning easily by 5 lengths. Two weeks later, he started at prohibitive odds of 2/9 for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, but was ultimately all out to hold Cacoethes – whom he had comfortably beaten by 7 lengths in the Derby – by a neck.

Connections declined an attempt at the Triple Crown, favouring the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over the St. Leger so, after a short break, Nashwan was sent to Longchamp for a preparatory race in the Prix Niel, a Group Two contest over the same course and distance as the Arc. Sent off at 1/5 for what appeared a formality, Nashwan held every chance inside the final quarter of a mile, but could only keep on at one pace to finish third, beaten 2 lengths, behind Golden Pheasant. He had run his last race and was retired at the end of the season having won all but one of his seven starts and over £793,000 in prize money.

Nashwan was humanely euthanised in July, 2002, after complications following a supposedly minor operation on a hind leg, at the age of 16. His death came just two months after that of his erstwhile trainer, who had earlier described him as “the best horse I’ve ever trained”.

Abernant Owned by Reginald Macdonald-Buchanan and trained by Noel Murless, later Sir Noel Murless, at Beckhampton, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, Abernant won fourteen of his seventeen races between 1948 and 1950. His regular partner, twenty-six-times champion jockey Sir Gordon Richards, described him as ‘the best sprinter he had ever ridden’.

Comparing horses from different generations is invariably a thankless task but, according to Timeform, Abernant is the fifth highest-rated horse, sprinter or otherwise, to race on the Flat in the post-war era, and the highest-rated sprinter in that period. Indeed, before Frankel, Abernant was the last horse to be rated the best of his generation by Timeform at two, three and four years.

Abernant was beaten, through greenness, on his two-year-old debut at Lingfield, but thereafter carried all before him over five and six furlongs to become the best British juvenile of 1948. His five victories that year included the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes – now the National Stakes – at Sandown, the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Following a successful reappearance at Bath, over seven furlongs, Abernant was sent off odds-on favourite for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket; after trying to make all, was caught close home and beaten a short head by his old rival Nimbus, whom he had beaten six lengths in the Champagne Stakes. Thereafter, he reverted to specialist sprint distances, winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, King George Stakes at Goodwood and Nunthorpe Stakes at York, all over five furlongs, and the July Cup at Newmarket, over six furlongs.

In 1950, as a four-year-old, Abernant won the King George Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes and July Cup again and in the King’s Stand Stakes was beaten only by the very useful three-year-old Tangled, to whom he was conceding 23lb. Abernant was retired at the end of the season with ‘nothing left for him to win’, according to Noel Murless.

Eclipse According to horse racing historian Michael Church, no horse has ‘achieved greater fame or left a more lasting legacy through his progeny’ than Eclipse. Foaled during an annular eclipse of the Sun on April Fools’ Day, 1764, Eclipse was bred, and originally owned, by HRH William, Duke of Cumberland. Cumberland died a year later and at the subsequent dispersal sale Eclipse was bought, for 75 guineas, by William Wildman, a cattle salesman from Smithfield.

An unruly, temperamental type, with an unusually low head carriage, Eclipse did not race for the first time until May, 1769, by which time he was a mature five-year-old. On his racecourse debut, he won the first heat of the Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Plate, over four miles, at Epsom with such ease that inveterate gambler Dennis O’Kelly famously predicted the result of the second heat as ‘Eclipse first, the rest nowhere’. O’Kelly was correct and immediately bought a half-share in Eclipse for 650 guineas.

The following April, by which time Eclipse was unbeaten in nine races, O’Kelly bought the horse outright, for 1,100 guineas, and transferred him to his stables at Clay Hill, Epsom. All in all, in a career lasting less than eighteen months, Eclipse won all of his eighteen races without ever being seriously challenged. His winning tally included eleven races with ‘King’s Plate’ in the title, run at venues throughout England, including Lewes, Newmarket and Winchester. However, having proved himself, far and away, the best horse of his generation, Eclipse ‘walked over’ on several occasions and was ultimately retired from racing due to lack of competition.

Following his retirement from racing, Eclipse proved a success at stud, siring three Derby winners. Even more remarkably, Eclipse features in the male line of ninety-five percent of English thoroughbreds and appears somewhere in the pedigree of the other five percent. Eclipse died from colic in 1789, at the age of 24. His skeleton is on display at the Royal Veterinary College, near Hatfield, Hertfordshire and he is commemorated by the Eclipse Stakes, run annually at Sandown Park since 1886.