Stoute hoping Ulysses' action will speak louder than words
Epsom's Breakfast with the Stars may have ramped up anticipation ahead of next week's Derby, which is essentially its job, but it did little to shed any light on which colt which will become the 237th winner.
Trainers are creatures of habit. Throw in a bit of superstition and it was no surprise to see that André Fabre and John Gosden, who sent Pour Moi and Golden Horn for a look around before their Derby heroics, sent their 2016 candidates Cloth Of Stars and Wings Of Desire. But lightning will not strike twice for at least one.
For every trainer who thinks reconnaissance is time well spent, there is another who thinks taking a horse to Epsom is something you do once in its life - if you have to - not twice in a fortnight. Michael Stoute would appear to be in that camp.
The veteran trainer would sooner work a colt on the moon 11 days before the Derby than send it to this event and his five Derby winners managed pretty well without it. But the great man did come to the phone to speak about Ulysses for the first time since the colt ran away with his Newbury maiden earlier this month. "He is a really well-balanced good-actioned athlete," he said. "He ran with a lot of promise as a two-year-old, had a hiccup and wasn't fully fit first time out this season. He couldn't have done it better at Newbury. He's got an Epsom pedigree and should handle it well."
Stoute also runs Across The Stars, the mount of Kieren Fallon, but was adamant Ulysses was the pick. "Of the two he's more mature and more ready," he said, tellingly. "I'd like to see what Aidan (O'Brien) is sending but I'm happy with my horse."
In all probability, the Ballydoyle supremo wouldn't mind knowing what he's sending either. He could have four, or six, runners depending on what 'the lads' decide. But I felt he had cooled a little on US Army Ranger since I saw him at Ballydoyle a fortnight ago. Then it was all US Army Ranger, now Deauville and Port Douglas are being mentioned with equal enthusiasm.
It seems no longer a given that Ryan Moore will ride the Chester Vase winner. "He is open to the most improvement," said O'Brien, "but he is the greenest of them all." (© Daily Telegraph, London)