In last week’s post about the unbeaten Eclipse (Marske x Spilletta), I included a digital reproduction of a contemporary painting of the great horse by George Stubbs, and in the comments on that post, reader E J C Blackwood noted that he had another image of the horse that included Wildman and his young sons.
William Wildman was a livestock dealer from Smithfield, England, and in 1765, he bought Eclipse as a yearling for 75 guineas from the estate of breeder Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.
Wildman kept the colt, had him brought to the races, then sold half of the promising young racer after his second start and victory to Dennis O’Kelly (50 percent in June 1769 for 650 guineas, the remaining 50 percent in April 1770 for 1,100 guineas).
Thus, O’Kelly is more frequently associated with Eclipse, but both men played very important roles in the horse’s life.
Both paintings of Eclipse show a scopey, good-sized chestnut horse with a significant amount of white on his face, plus a white stocking on his right hind that extends nearly to the hock. Both paintings indicate the elegance of Eclipse’s construction, the leanness of sinew and the refinement of bone. They also give an indication of a certain temperament, if the pinned ears are the telling indicator one expects from the acute observation of the painter. A further image of Eclipse, this one of his skeleton, is reproduced below.