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Ulysses ready for third clash with Highland Reel

25 Jul 2017

Niarchos Family hoping Cotal-Eclipse winner can turn the tables with familiar rival

Ulysses edges out Barney Roy in the Coral-Eclipse this month. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Connections of Ulysses are looking forward to a third clash with Highland Reel in the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The thrilling Coral-Eclipse winner is trailing 2-0 in their previous clashes – in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November and Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month – but remain hopeful of turning the tables in the QIPCO British Champions Series contest.

Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos Family, who own Ulysses, said at a media event hosted by QIPCO and Ascot Racecourse on Tuesday: “In the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, maybe Ulysses [who finished a close third] thought job done when he hit the front, and we had to hold him up a bit more.

“Jim Crowley did that when Ulysses won the Eclipse but even then he said to me ‘I would have liked to have been more patient’. As a horse matures, you learn more about him and what tactics he is comfortable with. A daring ride is the way it looks like.”
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Ulysses, added: “We’re very happy with Ulysses, and as far as the trip is concerned, he won a Gordon Stakes and ran a very solid race at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Turf [when fourth] over a mile and a half.

“He’s more settled this year, he relaxes better, so that will be to his advantage. I think the trip to Santa Anita did him a lot of good. I hoped that it would, and it did.”

Of the opposition, he said: “Highland Reel is a very admirable horse, and very, very tough to beat. But we go there hopeful on Saturday.

“I hope there’s not too much rain at Ascot. I just don’t want the ground too testing for him, so we’ll have to see how the weather behaves, but we’re hoping to run.”

Chris Stickels, clerk of the course at Ascot, is hoping the £1.15 million race will be take place on good ground.

He said: “We had 18 millimetres of rain between Friday night and Monday. Since then, we have been dry and this morning we were a mixture good to soft and soft. It is a nice, drying day so hopefully it will be drying out as we go on.

“There is a little bit of rain forecast tomorrow and we could get anywhere between one and five millimetres.

“With a bit of luck, we should be racing on good ground on Saturday. There is slight fly in ointment in that there could be a new rain band coming in on Saturday but that is unclear at the moment.

“Hopefully, if we get the bottom end of that one to five millimetres, we should have some reasonable ground.”

Tickets for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day are available here.