Dar Re Mi tuned up for Eclipse tilt

A certain theme, already evident this season, may well be continued at Sandown on Saturday. The female of the thoroughbred species has been performing with great credit in open company at the top level this season; think Goldikova, winner of the Queen Anne Stakes, think Plumania, who nosed out perennial best man Youmzain at Saint-Cloud on Sunday, think Sariska, High Heeled, Chinese White, Daryakana, Fleeting Spirit, all Group One-placed.

The expansion of the elite programme for fillies and mares in recent years has had the wholly beneficial effect of encouraging their remaining in training beyond their three-year-old season and, while some may opt to stay in single-sex competition, the very best are increasingly trying their luck against colts in the best races.

The next Group One pit stop on the European middle-distance circuit is the Eclipse Stakes, traditionally the first clash of the generations and genders of the season in the highest grade. The John Gosden-trained Dar Re Mi, the only female among yesterday's 13 acceptors for the 10-furlong showpiece, is challenging Twice Over for favouritism, but this particular glass ceiling is a hard enough one to breach for the girls. In 112 runnings only two have done so, Pebbles in 1985 and Kooyonga in 1992.

And some great fillies have tried and failed, most notably Sceptre, beaten a neck by Ard Patrick in 1903, and Bosra Sham, victim of an injudicious ride when odds-on 13 years ago. The "iron lady" Triptych, tried three times, her second place to Dancing Brave as a four-year-old 24 years ago being followed by two thirds to Mtoto. The most recent mare to run was Ouija Board, only fifth as 2-1 favourite in 2006.

The beautifully named Dar Re Mi (she is by Singspiel out of Darara and carries the colours of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, Madeleine) has faced mixed company on her last three runs, a fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, a third in the Breeders' Cup Turf and, in March, victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

The Eclipse was the brainchild of Hwfa Williams, the man who invented the pay-at-the-gate enclosed racecourse in an effort to keep out Victorian yobs and make the sport more attractive to women. Sandown, opened in 1875, was an instant success and 11 years later came the country's first £10,000 race (when the Derby was worth £4,600), specifically designed to bring the best of the generations together. The 1903 running was close to perfection; the four-year-old Ard Patrick, winner of the Derby, beat the legendary Sceptre, who had won the other four Classics the previous year, a neck, with the hitherto undefeated three-year-old Rock Sand, who was to go on to win the Triple Crown, back in third.

There is no three-year-old, though, of the calibre of last year's winner Sea The Stars this time. Seven are among the entry for the £500,000 purse, all bar Godolphin's late Irish Derby defector Chabal supplied by Aidan O'Brien. Viscount Nelson, fifth in the Prix Du Jockey-Club last time out when Sunday's Curragh hero Cape Blanco was only10th, is perceived as the best Ballydoyle prospect by the market.

Overall, older horses hold the call over the Classic generation. The race has gone to three-year-olds on 47 occasions, to four-year-olds 52 times, to five-year-olds 12 times, and to a six-year-old, the inaugural winner Bendigo, once.

Turf account

*Sue Montgomery's Nap Goldtrek (2.30 Brighton)

A step up to today's distance brought the necessary improvement last time.

*Next Best Distant Sun (4.45 Hamilton)

*One to watch

A maiden win should be a formality for Nationalism (J H M Gosden), who has the scope to prove a cut above average despite his belated debut.

Where the money's going

Hanoverian Baron has been installed as 8-1 favourite for Saturday's Old Newton Cup at Haydock by sponsors bet365.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Gritstone (3.45 Hamilton)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

English Teacher

£100 - £160 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Temporar...

KS1 Supply Teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album