Delight for Crowley as Ulysses eclipses Barney Roy in Sandown thriller
Ulysses, an 8/1 shot, gave Michael Stoute a record-equalling sixth Coral-Eclipse Stakes when he beat Barney Roy by a nose in a thrilling finish at Sandown to give first blood to the older horses in what is traditionally the first clash of the generations.
For winning jockey Jim Crowley it was a case of sacked off Eminent on Tuesday, wins the 120th Eclipse on Saturday.
"It worked out for me," he said, overplaying fate's hand in his victory and all too aware that it is very often swings and roundabouts in his profession.
"Things happen for a reason. I don't think I did too much wrong on Eminent."
The jockey had Ulysses perfectly placed throughout the race and, crucially, was a spectator rather than involved in the one incident, in the early part of the contest, which may have turned the race on its head.
Several times this season, Ballydoyle have employed pace-makers to great effect, most notably in the 2,000 Guineas and Commonwealth Cup. But here it went spectacularly wrong when Taj Mahal, employed in the role here for the favourite Cliffs of Moher, set a steady early pace.
With Eminent and Decorated Knight stacked up behind him, Padraig Beggy crossed over towards the inside after two and a half furlongs.
The concertina effect, bringing Decorated Knight almost to a halt, nearly resulted in Cliffs of Moher coming down.
Beggy was given an eight-day ban for careless riding, which certainly cost Cliffs of Moher several lengths, and impetus.
When asked if the incident had cost him any chance, a guarded Ryan Moore concurred that it probably had.
And it was to the Derby runner-up's credit that he recovered partially to finish in fourth place, a length behind Desert Encounter, which was three and a half lengths behind the front pair.
In the straight, Eminent attempted to bite Decorated Knight as they challenged for the lead. But Crowley was still motionless a furlong and a half out while Barney Roy was already under strong riding from James Doyle.
If riding Ulysses at Ascot had taught Crowley anything, it was patience, and when he eventually went for the Niarchos-owned colt he soon went a neck up.
However, the Sandown hill is famous for its reversals, and in a desperate lunge for the line it almost appeared as if Barney Roy had got up. As photo-finishes go, it took the judge a long time before he called the winner.
"I wasn't sure if he'd won," admitted Stoute, who now shares the record of Eclipse wins with Alec Taylor, who trained early in the last century. "I didn't have a good angle on it but even if you'd been stood on the line it would have been hard to tell. It was very close.
"He's an admirable horse. He's only ever had one blip and that was in the Derby, when he got knocked over twice.
"He's very consistent, and today the first two came right away from the third."
It was a fourth Group One for Crowley, last year's champion, who described it as his No 1 winner.
"I've had a few at Ascot - but this is the Eclipse," he said. "I didn't want to hit the front too soon, and having ridden him at Ascot I knew I could afford to wait a bit."
Richard Hannon, trainer of Barney Roy, said: "In the initial 10 minutes you are gutted when you've been beaten by a nose. In an hour's time I'll be delighted. The best is still to come, for sure. He's a good horse getting better. It was only his fourth run."
Meanwhile, Timiyan starred in a tremendous five-timer for leading owner JP McManus when making it two wins from as many starts for Gordon Elliott at Bellewstown on Saturday.
The six-year-old won at Roscommon last month on his first start since joining his new handler from Dermot Weld and was sent off 7/4 favourite to follow up in the Fast Shipping Bellewstown Handicap Hurdle.
Davy Russell's mount made smooth headway from the rear approaching three out and having joined leader Top Othe Ra at the second-last, he began to get the better of the battle with that rival after the last and opened up a two-and-a-quarter-length advantage in the closing stages.
Elliott had earlier saddled the McManus-owned Steamboat Quay (13/8 favourite) to win division two of the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under Conor Brassil, one of two winners on the card for the conditional jockey.
The trainer went on to complete a treble when Its All Guesswork (7/4) ran out a nine-length winner under Russell in the Western Motors Skoda Maiden Hurdle.
McManus got the evening off to a flying start as Tigris River comfortably justified his cramped odds in the Bellewstown Golf Course Hurdle.
Joseph O'Brien, Jody McGarvey and McManus also struck gold with Aeglos (3/1) in the Tierney Kitchens Balbriggan Maiden Hurdle.
And the trainer went on to complete a hat-trick and McManus completed his five-timer with impressive victor Tower Bridge (5/4 favourite) in the bumper. (© Daily Telegraph, London)