Ulysses wins Juddmonte International

Ulysses (C, white cap) wins the Juddmonte International Stakes from Churchill (R)
Image: Ulysses (C, white cap) wins the Juddmonte International Stakes from Churchill (R)

Ulysses showed he is getting better with age as he put his younger rivals in the shade to give Sir Michael Stoute a record-breaking sixth success in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

Having finished second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last time out, the four-year-old claimed a second Group One of the season when making a successful switch back to a mile and a quarter to add to his victory in last month's Coral-Eclipse.

After early leader Cliffs Of Moher faded away it was dual 2000 Guineas winner Churchill and St James's Palace Stakes hero Barney Roy who traded blows.

But sitting patiently in behind was an almost motionless Jim Crowley aboard the son of Gailileo, waiting to pounce and make his move as late as possible.

Hitting the front around a furlong from home, the 4-1 scorer quickly asserted, crossing the line two lengths clear of Churchill, with his old rival Barney Roy back in third.

Crowley said: "He seems to like being ridden with confidence. He is improving and today is the best feel I have got off him to be honest and he seems to be getting better and better.

"I always had plenty of horse. Today he relaxed so nicely and he just lobbed round. When I got there he got there quite soon, I just had to nurse him along to make sure he got there.

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"This horse is improving all the time and when the rain came this morning I knew after Ascot it wouldn't be a problem. I think he is one of those that only does as much as he has to, not in a bad way, but like I said he is a great ride to pick up and I am grateful to be riding him.

"These are the races when you are champion you want to be winning."

Stoute said: "It all just went so smoothly and there was never a blip. I think it was his best performance to date.

"York is a different track to Sandown, it's so level, and I never had any worries the way he was travelling.

"I think it's time to give him a break and work backwards from the Breeders' Cup Turf. The owners are keen to go for that. We'll go home and work it out."

Comparing Ulysses to some of his previous winners of the race, Stoute said: "He is taking his races so well, he's got everything.

"I think he is as good at 12 furlongs, don't forget the King George was run in a swamp, it wasn't ideal conditions for him.

"Today's performance would put him up there, if not in front of them."

RaceBets halved Ulysses in price to 3-1 for the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he was fourth to Highland Reel last season.

The latter remains the 11-4 favourite, and his trainer Aidan O'Brien said of Churchill: "He ran very well and we are very happy with him. The ground wasn't ideal, but he still ran well."

When asked if he thought he stayed 10 furlongs, O'Brien said "He didn't wilt anyway. It was a great run for his first try at the trip. We knew conditions weren't ideal, but at least he has left Ascot behind him.

"Goodwood (withdrawn from Sussex Stakes following a downpour) messed us up really as we were ready to run there, but you can't do anything about the weather. The Irish Champion Stakes is very possible, but he would have to be very well."

Barney Roy had been beaten on the line by Ulysses in the Eclipse and his trainer Richard Hannon said: "That was another very solid run. They took each other on a long way out and probably set it up for the winner.

"We might run him over 10 furlongs again, but a lot will depend on the ground. If it comes up soft we could go back to a mile with him. But we are certainly not ruling it out."

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