Although the Classic generation has provided three of the last eight winners of this historic contest, the race has favoured the older generations, with the score being thirty four to eighteen in their favour, since the race was opened to all age groups in 1965. When we say older generations, we only mean four and five year olds, as we have to go all the way back to the inaugural running in 1886 to find an older winner, the 6yo Bendigo. A definite negative for the David Simcock trained 6yo Lightning Spear! With five winners apiece, Aidan O’Brien, and Sir Michael Stoute (pictured above) , share the training honours, one behind record holder, Alec Taylor, who trained the last of his six winners in 1923.
Shortest priced of the older brigade at the time of writing, is Sir Michael’s 4yo colt Ulysses, and this son of Galileo is typical of the slow maturing type that his superb trainer excels with. The lightly raced colt seemed to have made considerable progress from three to four, when taking the Group3, Sir Gordon Richards Stakes over course and distance on his reappearance in April, where he comfortably beat Saturday’s opponent, Deauville, and he confirmed that good impression eight weeks later, when finishing third, 1 1/4L and a Shd behind the magnificent Highland Reel and Decorated Knight in The Group1 Prince Of Wales Stakes at the Royal Meeting. After his eight weeks break he was probably fresher than ideal and despite taking a very keen hold for much of the race mounted a strong challenge from over one furlong out. He was outpaced by the exceptional winner, but keeping on stoutly only lost second place in the shadow of the post to Decorated Knight. With the benefit of that run seventeen days ago expect a more settled performance on Saturday, and it will come as no great surprise if this son of Galileo puts Sir Michael in the record book.
Aidan O’Briens best chance of equaling the Taylor record would seem to lie with his Derby runner up, Cliffs Of Moher. Ryan Moore must have thought he had the great race in the bag until Paul Beggy came with that late devastating run on Wings Of Eagles, who sadly sustained a career ending injury, when finishing third in last Saturday’s Irish Derby. However with the Derby form working out well, it was an excellent performance by Cliffs Of Moher, and considering his dam never won beyond five furlongs, (Dundalk All-Weather) the son of Galileo might just be suited by the drop back in trip at the weekend.
There has been strong market support for the fourth home at Epsom, the Martyn Meade trained Eminent, and as a son of Frankel he also could be suited by a drop back in trip. Beautifully bred, out of a Kingmambo mare who finished third in the Group1 Fillies Mile, he looked an animal with a serious future when winning Newmarket’s one mile Craven Stakes on his reappearance in April, but then showed that he needed further when only sixth in the 2000gns. Despite being never comfortable on Epsom’s undulations he still looked to have every chance one hundred yards from the finish. Back on a more conventional track on Saturday he looks a threat to all.
I wonder if Roger Charlton realised two years ago to the month, that he had a future Group1 winner in his care, when the then 3yo, Decorated Knight, won a modest Class3 handicap at the Esher track, off a mark of 85. Sustained progress over the intervening two years has seen him become a dual winner at the highest level, and it was another super effort last time, to get to within 1 1/4L of Highland Reel at the Royal Meeting. 10f is his optimum trip and as he showed when winning his last Group1 on yielding ground at the Curragh, any easing of the ground shouldn’t be a problem, indeed may be welcome.
The Richard Hannon trained Barney Roy with a second in the 2000gns and a win last time in the Group1 St James Palace Stakes, has certainly outrun his relatively modest purchase price of 30,000gns as a foal, and there seems to be plenty of confidence that he can continue to thrive over two furlongs further on Saturday. It seems a big ask as he is the son of the miler, Excelebration, but on the positive side his dam is by that strong influence for stamina Galileo, and he certainly wasn’t stopping at the end of the St James Palace Stakes.
Jack Hobbs was a bitter disappointment in The Prince Of Wales Stakes but wasn’t happy on the fast ground. If the forecast thunder storms arrive this winner of over £4,000,000 in prize money is worth considering.
Selection : Ulysses
E.W. : Decorated Knight