Ulysses edged-out Barney Roy to win a thrilling Coral-Eclipse.
In the battle of the generations, it was Sir Michael Stoute’s progressive four-year-old that held off Richard Hannon’s young warrior in an epic finish. Ulysses had travelled powerfully throughout the contest, and shadowed the move made by Barney as the pair approached the final furlong. Godolphin’s colt hit the front only briefly before being seemingly swamped by a motionless Jim Crowley on Ulysses. The result appeared a formality, but the youngster was far from finished. In a pulsating climax, Hannon’s stable star proved he has the battling qualities to go with an immense amount of talent. At the post, he was a nose shy of getting back in front.
Crowley was understandably thrilled with his success onboard the rapidly improving Ulysses, saying: “That was fantastic. It was great to get the ride on him and I'm very grateful to the owners and Sir Michael Stoute. I learnt a lot from riding him last time. The race went really well today and when he got to 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.”
Stoute is a past-master at improving these mid-distance horses, year on year. Ulysses is a wonderful mover, and clearly operates at his best on a sound surface. He continues to progress, and will prove competitive in major races throughout the summer.
The trainer was more than satisfied with the performance, when saying: “He's a very brave and admirable horse and so consistent. 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. 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.”
To the victor the spoils, but Barney Roy lost little in defeat, and should improve plenty for the experience. He proved that he stays the trip well, and was possibly less comfortable than the winner on the quick ground. He still looks a little babyish at times, but certainly enjoys a scrap. James Doyle was thrilled with the performance: “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.”
Hannon echoed the jockey’s views, and remains excited about the future, saying: “He is a good horse and he is getting better. We are delighted, he has run a super race. He was just a 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. He will be a very good middle-distance horse for this year and next year. He is in a lot of good races. He is still quite inexperienced, but he has run a super race all things considered.”
The Juddmonte International at York may prove to be the next stop-off for both horses, with the Irish Champion Stakes further down the line. I remain a Barney fan, and would expect the long straight at the Knavesmire to prove ideal. Exciting times lie ahead for both him and Ulysses.