Arc a possible target for Ulysses but Cracksman an unlikely challenger
After a summer blossoming into Europe's top older horse Ulysses is under consideration for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 1 and a rematch with King George conqueror Enable.
The Juddmonte International and Eclipse winner could bid to add Europe's biggest prize to his haul at Chantilly before competing at the Breeders' Cup in November, according to Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family, owner/breeders of the four-year-old.
However, Cracksman's prospects of contesting the Arc, for which he is the general 8-1 second favourite, appear to be receding.
The unavailability of Frankie Dettori, who will be on favourite Enable at Chantilly, is a key consideration for owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer. Enable is hot favourite at as short as 4-5, and no bigger than even money.
Ulysses was on Thursday a top-priced 12-1 for the Arc, an option that remains on the table for the improving four-year-old should he be showing trainer Sir Michael Stoute the right signs.
Cooper said on Thursday: "Michael wanted time to think about the different options with him, bearing in mind he wanted to give him a break after York.
"He’s not going to the Irish Champion Stakes, but the Arc is a possibility and Michael will see if he takes his chance at Chantilly. It’s very much dictated by the trainer, he sees the horse every day and it’s only been eight days since York. We won’t rush into a decision and will do what’s best for the horse."
Of plans for next year, Cooper added: "That’s a decision we’ll make in partnership with Sir Michael. We’ll take it race by race and see whether it's best to race on at five with him."
Placed in the Derby and Irish Derby, Cracksman emerged as a possible Arc contender with a destructive six-length victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last week.
With Dettori already allied to John Gosden stablemate Enable, Cracksman’s owner-breeder Oppenheimer believes other targets are more likely, with the Frankel colt also entered for the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, Qipco Champion Stakes and Qatar Prix Niel.
He said: “We’ll consider the possibilities and he’s entered in the four races, of which I’d say the Arc is the most unlikely one.
“Frankie’s going to be on Enable, so that would count against us, but I don’t know plans as I haven’t spoken to Mr Gosden. I’d like Frankie to ride Cracksman really as we get on very well with him.”
Cracksman’s programme for the remainder of this season will also be guided by the desire to have him performing at the highest level as a four-year-old.
“We want him to run as a four-year-old, so we wouldn’t want to give him an unduly hard race at the end of his three-year-old season,” Oppenheimer added.
“It’s very difficult to know what to do. Mr Gosden will consider his work in comparison to before the York run and we’ll see what he says. He’s come out of the race well, but that’s not to say he’s as well as he was going into the race.”
The owner-breeder, who won the Derby and Arc with the Gosden-trained Golden Horn, added: “We’re delighted to have such a nice horse and one who is rated so highly, but it’s very difficult to know what to do with him now. At lot will depend on what's been happening at home.
“My guess – and it’s only that – would be that he’d go for the Prix Niel, which is a Group 2 with no penalty, or the Champion Stakes, should it cut up a bit.”