With the first crop of Cheveley Park Stud’s Ulysses hitting the track this year, the operation’s Managing Director Chris Richardson is hoping that the well-bred individual can repay the faith shown in him by the late David Thompson.
Ulysses, a Niarchos family homebred, boasts the all-conquering Galileo as his sire and is out of the Kingmambo mare Light Shift, whose four career victories included the Group 1 Oaks in 2007.
This is a family that owes its success to the Niarchos family’s purchase of Northern Trick at the Keeneland July Sale in 1982. The daughter of Northern Dancer was only seen on the track as a three-year-old but captured both the Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille.
While Northern Trick’s best offspring was the Listed scorer Onda Nova, it was her Shirley Heights daughter Lingerie who went on to produce Ulysses’s dam Light Shift and the Group-winning siblings Shiva and Limnos.
Trained throughout his career by Sir Michael Stoute, Ulysses made one appearance as a two-year-old and at three broke his maiden in a ten-furlong contest at Newbury before finishing down the field behind Harzand in the 2016 Derby.
“Ulysses, a Niarchos family homebred, boasts the all-conquering Galileo as his sire”
He bounced back to claim the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood and a year later as a four-year-old he excelled to take the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes, the Coral-Eclipse and the Juddmonte International.
Following those performances, Cheveley Park Stud announced it had purchased a majority share in the son of Galileo and he remained in the ownership of the Niarchos family to contest the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where he finished third to Enable.
Retiring to stud in 2018, Ulysses commanded an opening fee of £30,000 and was rewarded with a book of over 100 mares that included strong support from both Cheveley and the Niarchos family.
At last year’s yearling sales there were strong results for his progeny, headed by a 350,000gns colt out of the Listed-placed Wootton Bassett mare Troarn, who was bought by Shadwell at Book 1 of Tattersalls October.
Buoyed by those results and the profile Ulysses offers as a stallion, Richardson is excited to see the stallion take the next step in his stud career.
He said: “We’re most encouraged and more importantly, the trainers have been happy to make positive statements. The results of the first two breeze-ups has also been pretty positive.
“You wouldn’t have thought necessarily they would have been breeze-up horses, but they breezed well, and the purchasers of last year’s yearlings have been well rewarded.
“They’re horses that are mentally quite mature although one wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be producing early autumn two-year-olds, he’s got the profile to produce relatively early autumn two-year-olds.
“The challenge for me, if it were possible, is to find a two-year-old that would be good enough and competitive enough in the Chesham, which would be conditions that would suit the progeny of Ulysses so well.
“He’s had some fantastic mares. Cheveley Park and the Niarchos family and many of the top breeders have supported him. That support is showing through in the fact that every year since he retired to stud, he’s had over 100 mares and even this year we’re up to 108 in what would be considered a very tough year for him.
“The challenge for me is to find a two-year-old that would be good enough and competitive enough in the Chesham”
“The hard work is done really. The pressure is on the trainers and we hope that we get some good results going forward. He certainly has a profile of a very exciting horse. By Galileo, [who] is just a wonderful sire, out of an Oaks winner from a brilliant family.
“We’ve had to support him, but it’s been a pleasure to do so. I know it’s given the Thompson family a huge amount of pleasure to see how his progeny are turning out.”
It has been well documented in the past that Thompson was a huge admirer of Ulysses and while he is no longer around, he had enjoyed following the progress that the dual Group 1 winner was making with his stock.
Richardson added: “He would always look at the horses and say, ‘I’ve no idea what I’m looking at’ and makes us all giggle because he knew perfectly well what he was looking at, but he always wanted to give that impression.
“But secretly I know he was taken by what he saw and very much enjoyed looking at the resulting progeny.
“Rather like at Cheltenham, we were leading owners at the Festival, which was a tribute to him, and I hope Ulysses will be the same and any success will be a suitable tribute to the confidence that David Thompson had in Ulysses as a racehorse.”
Strongly supported by the Newmarket operation in his first season, among the Cheveley group of mares Ulysses covered were Falmouth and Sun Chariot Stakes heroine Integral and her dam, the Dalakhani mare Echelon, who was successful in the 2007 renewal of the Group 1 Matron Stakes.
On their respective progeny by the stallion, Richardson said: “They’re progressing as one would expect. Integral’s filly, she’s called Infintive, is probably a little bit lighter framed than some. Probably a filly that won’t necessarily be that early but should continue to mature and develop.
“The Echelon colt, Profession, he’s a much stronger, slightly more precocious looking individual. He had some immaturity issues, which means that we’re being very patient where the temptation might have been to rush him along a bit. The family improve with age and we want to give him every chance.
“With 29 colts and fillies by the sire in training there are some lovely horses – hopefully some will appear early, and some will be later. It’s a very good cross section spread between the trainers.”
Another of the mares that visited Ulysses in his first season is none other than Sacre Caroline, the dam of Cheveley’s QIPCO 1,000 Guineas hopeful Sacred, who was sourced for 300,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in 2017.
On why she was purchased for Ulysses, Thompson revealed: “It was really the fact that David Thompson allowed us to purchase a number of mares that would suit Ulysses. We’d competed against Lady Eli and beaten her with Queen’s Trust in the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup.
🥰 Proud mother and brother 🥰
📸 here is Sacre Caroline (Blame), dam of Gr. 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes winner SACRED (Exceed & Excel), striding out @CPStudOfficial with her cracking two-week-old ULYSSES colt 🚀#RPFoalGallery pic.twitter.com/VmTJK8S18D
— Cheveley Park Stud (@CPStudOfficial) April 14, 2021
“We were obviously impressed with the family [Sacre Caroline is a half-sister to Lady Eli] and although she was a winner over a mile and a half in France, she is bred to have a lot more speed. I think the inclusion of her speed and the speed of Exceed And Excel has surprised many. We were thrilled to have been able to have bought her at the Tattersalls sale from one of my great friends Ted Voute.”
The daughter of Blame has a Ulysses colt at foot, a Ulysses two-year-old filly called Enshrine, who like Sacred is in training with William Haggas, and a yearling colt by the sire who according to Richardson may well be offered at the sales depending on what Cheveley’s policy is at the time.
Of course, Cheveley’s attention will be firmly on Sunday’s QIPCO 1,000 Guineas where Sacre Caroline’s daughter Sacred will take her chance having landed the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month.
Richardson said: “She ran a blinder in the Queen Mary and was sort of the bridesmaid three times which was bit frustrating. I think ground is important for her and the family, the dam is a half-sister to the multiple Grade 1 winner Lady Eli who obviously raced in America.
“She’s a better filly on top of the ground and she showed an impressive turn of foot to win the Nell Gwyn. With no rain forecast I suppose the big question is she has her ground, but will she stay?
“There’s only one 1,000 Guineas and she deserves to take her place in the line-up. The way she quickened up the hill was eye-catching. Obviously, Ryan Moore was fairly eloquent afterwards saying that he wasn’t sure she would stay but she will obviously prove it one way or another.
“I slightly feel that whatever she does in the Guineas will be very special. If we’re lucky enough to trouble the first three, we’ll be delighted. Perhaps she’s won her Guineas by winning the Nell Gwyn.
“I think she’s a filly with a huge amount of talent and looks like she’s going to progress physically, and we may not even yet see the best of her until next year.”