Ulysses blooms in Eclipse showdown

Ulysses gets the better of Barney Roy by a nose.  Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA
Ulysses gets the better of Barney Roy by a nose. Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA
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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 in the process.

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 champion jockey Jim Crowley.

Once given his head, the Sir 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,” he said.

“I learned 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. I wasn’t at a good angle for the line so I didn’t know, but a lot of people congratulated me.

“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 ten 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.”