Ulysses to kick off busy week for Stoute in big International clash
Ulysses will head a strong Sir Michael Stoute team across the four days of the Ebor meeting at York next week, when the Newmarket trainer is expected to field two runners against Enable in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
On the first day, Ulysses is due to get the ball rolling with his eagerly anticipated rematch with Barney Roy in the Group 1 Juddmonte International, a race Stoute has won five times.
After his narrow victory over Barney Roy in the Eclipse, the four-year-old Ulysses was beaten by Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He drops back in trip at York, Stoute confirmed.
“Ulysses is competent at both trips," he said. "He loves top of the ground but he goes on any.
"I think it will be a high-quality race, it’s very interesting. We’ve had some great races for the International in the past and we’ll probably have a great one this time.”
No current trainer can match Stoute’s tally of nine Yorkshire Oaks wins, although Matthew Dawson also won the race nine times in the 19th century. Next Thursday he plans to be double-handed in the Group 1 with Queen’s Trust and Abingdon both tasked with tackling Enable.
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Queen's Trust, who will be running over a mile and a half for the first time this year, has run better this season than a glance at her bare form may suggest, while Abingdon has shown up particularly well when competing on fast ground, notably when winning a Listed race at Pontefract by ten lengths in June.
Stoute said: “Queen's Trust hasn’t had the rub of the green this year. In the Prince of Wales’s she got badly interfered with and was really coming home. Then the ground was too soft for her in the Nassau. But she's in good shape – she’ll run a big one."
He added: “Abingdon is solid. She’s won at the track [the Galtres last year], she has been running well this year and I hope she’ll be in the frame. I’d be happy with that. She loves top of the ground but doesn’t want it softer than good.”
One race in which Stoute will not be represented is Friday's Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, for which big guns Lady Aurelia and Battaash were among 13 acceptors at the six-day declaration stage.
York clerk of the course William Derby is looking forward to a busy week and the ground could be on the quick side for the opening day on Wednesday if forecasts are correct.
He said on Saturday: "We're good, good to firm in places after a dry day. It's set fair through until Tuesday, after which we may get a passing shower."
Derby, who is also chief executive, added: "We're happy with the entries for the Nunthorpe, which looks like it's going to be a titanic battle."