Sunday 22 October 2017

Ulysses in full bloom to eclipse Barney in thriller

Jim Crowley riding Ulysses win The Coral-Eclipse from Barney Roy and James Doyle. Photo: Getty
Jim Crowley riding Ulysses win The Coral-Eclipse from Barney Roy and James Doyle. Photo: Getty

Graham Clark

Ulysses got the better of Barney Roy in a thrilling climax to the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. A field of nine runners went to post for the Group One feature, with the betting dominated by the three-year-olds Barney Roy, Cliffs Of Moher and Eminent.

There was drama in the early stages as Derby runner-up and 7/4 favourite Cliffs Of Moher was tightened up on the rail and stumbled badly, losing vital ground. His pacemaker Taj Mahal led the field into the straight before giving way and Eminent and Decorated Knight battled their way towards the front.

However, first Barney Roy was delivered with his challenge before Ulysses arrived on the scene travelling powerfully in the hands of Jim Crowley. Once given his head, the Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses found another gear to get to the front and looked set to win decisively, but Barney Roy had other ideas and roared back tenaciously. The pair flew past the line almost as one, but the judge confirmed 8/1 shot Ulysses as the winner by a nose. Desert Encounter was third.

Crowley had ridden Eminent on his previous four starts but was replaced by Silvestre de Sousa for this race, freeing him up to get back on board Ulysses, whom he steered to third place in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

"That was fantastic. It was great to get the ride on him and I'm very grateful to the owners and Sir Michael Stoute," said the champion jockey. "I learnt a lot from riding him last time. The race went really well today and when he got the front he thought he'd done enough. I cruised into the race and my only concern was getting there too soon.

"Fair play to the second, who came back at us, and I wasn't sure we'd won. It was a great feeling when they called it out."

Stoute, winning the Eclipse for the sixth time, said: "He's a very brave and admirable horse and so consistent. The only blip was in last year's Derby and he got turned over twice, so he had no chance in that.

"I wasn't confident he was going to win, but I was hopeful. I felt he was holding on. He's been to Santa Anita and he's been to Goodwood and he's very adaptable."

Asked about future plans, the trainer added: "Let's go home and see how he is in 10 days' time. I wouldn't rule out going back up to a mile and a half as he won the Gordon Stakes last year and ran a big race at Santa Anita [fourth in Breeders' Cup Turf]. He's not as keen this year and settles better, so he'll get a mile and a half."

Barney Roy's rider, James Doyle, was proud of his mount's performance, on what was a first try at 10 furlongs for the St James's Palace Stakes winner.

He said: "It was a messy race early and we were on top of each other a bit . . . this track isn't ideal for young horses.

"We actually had a lovely run round. He was a little bit green on the track, but he turned into the straight nicely and I thought we'd win.

"Ulysses jumped on us quick and I thought we were definitely beat and then he's rallied back in the last 50 yards. In another stride I think we'd have got there, but full credit to him, he's run a stormer."

His trainer Richard Hannon said: "He is good horse and he is getting better. We are delighted, he has run a super race. He was just shade unlucky. I'm very proud of him and the team, it was a good effort. He is a brave horse and he is only a baby.

"It was just bad luck. I don't normally believe in luck, but I do now. He will be a very good middle-distance horse for this year and next year. He is still quite inexperienced, but he has run a super race all things considered. He had a hard race at Ascot but he has still come out and run his race here."

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