Do you know the meaning of ‘The Daddy of Them All’? If not, this is the case of Eclipse and the phrase means ‘great champion’. Eclipse was one of the most exceptional racehorses of the 18th century. Considering his bloodline, it is even more outstanding as 90% of the thoroughbred racehorses are directly descended from this animal and if we look into the past we get to know that this horse was painted by the most famous artists of the 18th century and was also feted by princes.
The book Eclipse by Nicholas Clee does not only show Eclipse’s racing and breeding career but also tells of the lives of those who owned Eclipse, their hardships and their racy way of life. You will be surprised to know that this horse was owned by Dennis O’Kelly.
Clee tells that it was the time when women of pleasure ended up as noblewomen, and the bets placed on cards and horse races were so high that they can only be understood by people who nowadays place high stacks in horse races. The town of Somerset was the center of sinfulness, vileness, and wrongdoing and it was the perfect place for O’Nelly to develop his skills as a gambler.
O’Kelly was one of the first to catch on to something that his countrymen have these days turned into a fine art: the real money in bloodstock comes not from the racing, but from the breeding. A lucrative colt can become a money machine as a stallion.
As he was a good judge of horses soon he had full ownership of Eclipse and it was the starting point for him to make so much money in horse races. After Eclipse retired O’Kelly knew what to do as Eclipse stood as a stallion at a stud fee of 50 pounds per mare, a good sum of money in that time.
O’Kelly had a real fortune and as others were trying to make money he had gathered riches and property. In Eclipse’s 24 years of life, this unbeaten champion was sent around the country to sire other champions with less distinguished animals.