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Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever
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Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever

3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
His four rivals are so far behind him that, in racing terms, they are "nowhere." Watching Eclipse is the man who wants to buy him. An adventurer and rogue who has made his money through gambling, Dennis O'Kelly is also companion to the madam of a notorious London brothel.

While O'Kelly is destined to remain an outcast to the racing establishment, his horse will go on to bec
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by The Overlook Press (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 165)
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Nov 08, 2015 Ms.pegasus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loved STUD; Adventures in Breeding by Kevin Conley
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: browing bookshelves of my local bookstore
American readers might be familiar with the annual Eclipse Awards, but who was Eclipse and why is he famous? Look to Georgian England, a period Nicholas Clee explores in elaborate detail. Horseracing and gambling brought together the roughest commoners and the most elite blue-bloods of the period. Thus, the histories of William Augustus (1721-1765), Duke of Cumberland and 3rd son of George II; William Wildman (1718-1784) a prosperous Smithfield livestock broker; and Dennis O'Kelly (1725-1788), a ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Marla rated it it was ok
Finally finished it! I was distracted by other books, but finally finished this one. The title was a little bit misleading I thought. Eclipse was in it, but it mostly seemed to be about the people around Eclipse and the time period he raced in. I think the first three or four chapter were about his owner and his significant other who was a prostitute and a madam before they really even got to Eclipse in any major way. The author seemed to have more interest in cover their lives than in Eclipse t ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok
Advertised on the cover as "Seabiscuit without the schmaltz" didn't really endear me to this book, as I loved Laura Hillenbrand's tale. And schmaltz or not, she did a far better job bringing the humans associated with Seabiscuit to life than Clee did with the humans in Eclipse's life. I found this book to be pretty dry, especially when the horses were set aside for the humans. Eclipse's brilliant, undefeated racing career seemed barely touched upon, as he did his breeding career, in order to foc ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jun 05, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
The last time I was in London, I went to the exhibit of George Stubbs' magnificent equestrian portraits at the National Gallery. This is the story of Eclipse, the first of the celebrity superhorses from whom most thoroughbreds descend today--possibly because of his freakishly large heart (passed on to the likes of Seabiscuit and War Admiral). Clee examines the whole phenomena of British horse racing--Royal Patronage, the financial mechanics of 18th century gambling, the Jockey Club (to which Ecl ...more
T.L. Cooper
Oct 05, 2015 T.L. Cooper rated it it was amazing
Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever by Nicholas Clee appealed to me because of its connection to the Kentucky Derby and especially to Secretariat. I've always had an affinity for horses because they are so graceful, beautiful, and strong. I studied the Kentucky Derby in school, but I never gave much thought to the history of horse racing. Eclipse reminded me that racing has a long and rather sordid history. Clee delves into the history of horse racing and doesn't shy away from ...more
Mar 22, 2015 Libby rated it really liked it
Shelves: horses
This was fun to read! I love horses and racing and this horse is the root and foundation of thoroughbred racing. He is the bomb, the ONE, the mostest; a prepotent sire who is the ancestor of more than 95% of thoroughbreds today. By itself that would be enough to interest me, but the story just gets better and better. In Eclipse's time(late 1700's, early 1800's) English racing was at its wildest and most wide open. Certainly, many owners were so-called gentlemen and members of noble families or e ...more
Rena Sherwood
Apr 17, 2016 Rena Sherwood rated it really liked it
This is more of a sport history book than a "horse book." Not much is known about the thoroughbred breed's most influential stud -- outside of race results, myth, a killer painting by George Stubbs and Eclipse's remarkable progeny. Eclipse could rightly be called one of the first "real" thoroughbreds. If a time-machine could somehow bring Eclipse to race against today's thoroughbreds, he'd bury them. He shows how much the breed has degenerated through inbreeding and sheer greed of the racing ind ...more
The blurb on the front of the book says, "A ripping yarn expertly told...Seabiscuit without the schmaltz." Well, they got that half right. Where Seabiscuit was an incredibly readable, detailed history, this was a meandering, dry, dare I say boring book that dragged and dragged and dragged. I will read any kind of horse racing book out there, but this one felt at times only peripherally related to Eclipse. The writing also feels slightly more academic than storytelling (hence, the dryness).

I wil
Femme de Plume
The history of Eclipse, owned jointly by a gambler and a brothel keeper should have been one of the most fascinating histories of all time, but Mr. Clee's account was oh-so-very dry.

Too much of the book rambled off into commentary on other subjects and horses.

It was informative and well-researched but as much fun as a history book.
Jul 22, 2015 Sumiko rated it liked it
It was an interesting read about racing during Eclipse's lifetime. Chockful of dangerous and shady characters with lots of rumor and innuendo about horses, their bloodlines, their owners, etc.
Rachelle Underwood
I really wanted to read about the racehorse. What I actually got was a detailed history of 18th Century prostitution and so many footnotes I couldn't keep track of the current subject.
Will Tate
I am sure that most readers who pick up "Eclipse" will either already have a keen interest in horseracing or will be equally keen students of 18th century social history. In both cases the book will not tell them much that they did not already know - the author explains, often with the use of extensive, academic-style footnotes, details about racing and Georgian London that often seem to just show how much research he's done. The trouble is that the subject of the book is elusive - racing in the ...more
Tim Dyson
Apr 10, 2016 Tim Dyson rated it liked it
Not the best racing book you'll ever read but considering the legacy of Eclipse essential reading for turf fans.

The author does a commendable job of bringing the world of Eclipse to life despite the limited and unreliable source material available.
Jan 06, 2015 Imprimatur rated it really liked it
A very good history of the horse that started it all and the people that surrounded him. Clee does a masterful job of bringing you into the 18th century and building a very real world out of race records, ledgers and bills. Brilliant.
Annie Oortman
Jan 08, 2015 Annie Oortman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great reference book for those looking for information on this great animal as well as early British racing history. At the times, the writer goes off topic, but the tangents are interesting although not pertinent to the subject.
Mar 22, 2015 Monika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For a book touting itself as biography of Eclipse, I still know very little about Eclipse now that I've finished it. In fact, we reach the end of Eclipse's racing career only one third of the way into the book. There's also a chapter about Eclipse as a sire, and then at the end of the book they talk about his skeleton a little. Otherwise, this could be looked at as a combined biography of Eclipse's owner and general history of English horse racing, with plenty of information on the history of pr ...more
Lori Dengler
Jan 30, 2016 Lori Dengler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. With a great cast of characters I expected more than the amateurish prose and dull plot.
Aug 01, 2012 Erin rated it liked it
I couldn't decide between 3 and 4 stars on this one. I thought the writing was great, and loved how the author went into detail on the historical record and used unexpected detours into the social history and biographical connections between players in the racing scene - both efforts really enriched the book for me. Nonetheless, I felt it was hard to make it through the second half of the book. Recommend for horse lovers, aficionados of the Turf, or newbies interested in learning about the basic ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
What do you get when you take a gambler, a rogue and a madam? The world's most prepotent race horse, Eclipse. This social history of the Georgian era in Britain is rife with big money, bad behavior and incomparable horses. Clee paints an oftentimes rather hilarious picture of the times. This isn't just a horse biography, it's a well researched analysis of the mores and foibles of polite and not-so-polite society of the mid to late 18th century.
Nov 21, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this book. It's a good look at the times back then, particularly the racing practices. Eclipse's owner was...uh...something else? The beginning, which focused particularly on him, was kind of slow and boring, but I can see where someone else might find those parts more interesting.

All in all, a must have for any horse racing fan-cum-history buff, as this combines those two loves.
Lynn Sattesahn
Jul 12, 2013 Lynn Sattesahn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I love horse racing and like history and this book had both so it was very easy to enjoy. Mr. Clee has a very nice style that is easy to follow. I really enjoyed the backgound on the main characters - being neither the upper nor the lower eschelon, I feel that they were a group that is seldom written about. I feel he did very well in his horse racing history too!
Sep 26, 2011 Nora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could not get into this book. I think part of the problem for me was that I had a lot of difficulty caring about Eclipse or his owner. I never got the sense that there was an emotional connection, or of the importance of Eclipse in himself rather than as a founding father. The author sets up the world of Eclipse and O'Kelly quite well, but I never got viscerally why I should care.
May 07, 2012 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-owned, 2012
Entertaining and informative - as much about the birth and evolution of Thoroughbred racing as the horse who has become the ancestor of a large percentage of the breed.

(Also - horse names in the 1700s were something else. Pot8os is perhaps my favorite among Eclipse's sons.)
Aug 06, 2014 Maxine rated it really liked it
Shelves: victoriana, finished
An interesting look at the birth of modern horse racing; yet the most compelling parts of the tale are the people and the times the great horse came from. The follies and foibles of the humans involved made me hungry for more information on the times.
Aug 18, 2013 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was on the short side which was disappointing, and there was more about his owner/trainer then the actual horse. In general it was a great read for any race horse fanatic since you cannot typically find much information about Eclipse
Mar 11, 2015 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: horses
This was a fun and interesting look at the history of horse racing as well as an eye-opening account of how much influence one horse had over the entire breed and sport.
Sep 24, 2012 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Great look at 18th century horse racing and society in England. Fascinating study of Eclipse's influence on Thoroughbred development down to the present day.
Apr 07, 2012 Gillian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thoroughbred
I quite liked this book. Very interesting to read about modern thoroughbred racing's origins.
Oct 29, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
Informative - lot's of Thoroughbred history.
April marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
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