There is always plenty of interest when a very well bred juvenile makes its debut and although he finished only sixth behind Algometer in late October, his only start at two, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses showed potential and earned a Timeform rating of 81p.
That mile Newbury maiden was followed by a 10-furlong contest at Leicester in late April of last year but he was beaten again, this time finishing a half-length runner-up. Three weeks later, however, he was so impressive in scoring by eight lengths over the same trip at Newbury that he was sent off at 8/1 for the Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom on his next start.
He disappointed there but bounced back to beat The Major General by half a length in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes over 12 furlongs at Goodwood, was short-headed by the front-running Chain Of Daisies in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes over 10 at Windsor, and then advertised his Group 1 potential when finishing fourth to Highland Reel in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in early November.
He finished the season with a Timeform rating of 121, but when he beat Deauville by a length in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on his four-year-old debut in late April, that figure moved up to 126p which identified him as one of the potential stars of 2017 and a major contender for the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He put up an excellent performance on the fast ground, and even got his head in front briefly in the final furlong, but had to settle for third to Highland Reel and Decorated Knight, another one-two-three for Coolmore Stud stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) in a top-level event.
Ulysses is owned and bred by the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd, and in addition to being a son of the prolific champion sire, he has the considerable attraction of being out of the Group 1 Oaks heroine Light Shift (by Kingmambo).
She was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, her classic victory was by half a length from Peeping Fawn, and it followed defeat of All My Loving in the Listed Cheshire Oaks.
After Epsom she ran three times, chasing home Peeping Fawn in the Group 1 Irish Oaks at the Curragh, finishing third behind that same star in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, and then disappointing as an unplaced favourite behind Satwa Queen in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp.
Light Shift is out of Lingerie (by Shirley Heights) and that makes her a half-sister to the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup heroine Shiva (by Hector Protector), to the French Group 2 scorer Limnos (by Hector Protector), to Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap runner-up Hyades (by Aldebaran), and to Burning Sunset (by Caerleon), a mile Saint-Cloud listed scorer who finished third in the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt over 10 furlongs at Longchamp.
The best of Shiva’s offspring is the Francis-Henri Graffard-trained four-year-old That Which Is Not (by Elusive Quality), who won the Listed Prix Zarkava over 10 and a half furlongs at Saint-Cloud in early April and chased home Armande in the Group 2 Prix Corrida over the same course and distance last month.
Burning Sunset, on the other hand, is the dam of the Group 2-placed stakes winner Zhiyi (by Henrythenavigator), of Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt scorer and Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup runner-up Smoking Sun (by Smart Strike), and of Ikat (by Pivotal), the Group 3 Prix d’Aumale runner-up who gave us Group 1 Investec Derby runner-up and multiple US Grade 1 star Main Sequence (by Aldebaran).
Lingerie also has two non-winning daughters who deserve a mention because of what they have achieved at stud, and one of them is Molasses (Machiavellian). She was unraced but her son Magadan (by High Chaparral) won the Group 3 Prix d’Hedouville and finished third in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, both at Longchamp. He stands at Haras de Treban, in France, and is off the mark as a sire.
Strawberry Fledge (by Kingmambo) is the other one. She is a full-sister to Light Shift, she was placed, and her son Cloth Of Stars (by Sea The Stars) won the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Saint-Cloud early last month.
That short-neck defeat of Zarak was his third pattern victory of the year, following the Group 3 Prix Exbury in March and a neck win over Mekhtaal in the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt at Chantilly in April.
Last year he won both the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe and Group 3 Prix La Force and finished third in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, and at two he won the Group 3 Prix des Chenes and was placed behind Robin Of Navan in both the Group 3 Prix de Conde and Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.
Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and Group 1 Prix Vermeille heroine Northern Trick (by Northern Dancer) is the third dam of Ulysees. She was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary, chased home Sagace in the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and was rated 131 by Timeform.
The only stakes winner among her seven successful runners was the Listed Prix Imprudence scorer Onda Nova (by Keos) and, in addition to Lingerie, she has another daughter who hit the top at stud. That is the placed Creature du Ciel (by Machiavellian), dam of the Brazilian Grade 1 stars Jeune-Turc (by Know Heights) and Nonno Luigi (by Dubai Dust).
With family connections like these, Ulysses is one of the best bred horses in training. He is a top-notch racehorse and, especially given how the Galileo stallions are doing, he also has the potential to do well whenever the time comes for him to go to stud.