Pedigree Insights: Ulysses


Ulysses winning the Coral Eclipse at Sandown | Racing Post

By Andrew Caulfield

Take a look at Galileo (Ire)’s extensive list of 2017 black-type winners and you could be forgiven for thinking that there is virtually only one way of bringing out the best in this astonishing stallion. Only three of the 23–the listed winners Order of St George (Ire), Galipad (GB) and Key To My Heart (Ire)–have a broodmare sire which won over nine furlongs or more (Gone West, Halling and Bernardini respectively). Galileo’s dependence on speed appears to be highlighted by the fact that he owes his six Group 1 winners of 2017 exclusively to daughters of sprinters or milers, thanks to Choisir (Aus), Anabaa, Danehill, Kingmambo and Storm Cat (2). But don’t take this at face value. The Kingmambo mare in question is Light Shift, the dam of recent G1 Coral-Eclipse hero Ulysses (Ire), and Light Shift was no speedster. With a dam by the stamina-packed Shirley Heights, Light Shift didn’t break her maiden at two until she was stepped up to a mile and at three she proved so well suited by middle distances that she triumphed in the Cheshire Oaks and the Oaks.

In fact Ulysses is Galileo’s third Group 1 winner with an Epsom Oaks-winning dam, as the 2000 Oaks winner Love Divine (GB) produced the St Leger winner Sixties Icon (GB) and the 2004 winner Ouija Board (GB) did even better, producing the Derby and Irish Derby winner Australia (GB). This acts as a reminder that the belief that Galileo needs fast mares is a fairly recent phenomenon, largely fuelled by Frankel having a sprinter as his dam. The truth is that there are many exceptions to this theory.

Cast your minds back to his first crop, foaled in 2003. Not only did it contain Sixties Icon but also the G1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto (Ire), whose dam won the Doncaster Cup over two and a quarter miles. His team of Group 1 winners also feature the first-rate brother-and-sister team of Nathaniel (Ire) and Great Heavens (GB), who are out of the G3 Musidora S. winner Magnificient Style, whose sire Silver Hawk had an average winning distance of 11f. There are also Group 1 winners out of daughters of Monsun (Ger), Slip Anchor (GB), Darshaan (GB), Shirley Heights (GB), Erins Isle (GB), Belmez, Lando (Ger) and Theatrical (Ire).

The truth is that Galileo can sire top winners from any type of mare, but the current obsession with speed has its reasons. With stamina being a dirty word in today’s breeding industry, a stoutly-bred son of Galileo is going to find it harder to earn a place as a stallion (even though Nathaniel has sired an Oaks winner in his first crop). It is no coincidence that Imperial Monarch (Ire) and Sans Frontieres (Ire), his Group 1-winning sons out of daughters of Slip Anchor and Shirley Heights, were consigned directly to Coolmore’s National Hunt division, which now also houses Galileo’s Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune (Ire) (out of an Erins Isle mare) and his St leger second Mahler (GB) (out of a Rainbow Quest mare).

Sending Galileo speed mares is a means to helping him sire sons with first-rate 2-year-old ability, such as Frankel (GB), Teofilo (Ire), Gleneagles (Ire) and Churchill (Ire), but I think that anyone who ignores Galileo’s middle-distance sons does so at their peril. Hopefully Nathaniel will build on his early success and then there are the likes of Intello (Ger), Australia, Ruler of the World (Ire) and Noble Mission (GB) to come, plus hopefully Highland Reel (Ire) and Ulysses. Highland Reel and Ulysses have surely made their task a little easier with their victories in two of Britain’s premier mile-and-a-quarter events.

Mention of Ruler of the World reminds me that he shares the same broodmare sire, the Niarchos-bred Kingmambo, as Ulysses. The Galileo-Kingmambo partnership’s statistics stand at 24 foals, 19 starters, 14 winners and four black-type winners (17%), The other black-type winners are Port Douglas (Ire) (G2 Beresford S.) and Gemstone (Ire) (a listed winner over a mile as a juvenile). This cross produces 4 x 3 to Mr Prospector, with Ulysses also being inbred 3 x 5 x 4 to Northern Dancer and 4 x 5 to Special. Galileo’s matings with other mares by sons of Mr Prospector have yielded that high-class long-distance horse Order of St George (out of a Gone West mare) and the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks (Ire) (out of a Machiavellian mare).

With Galileo, Sadler’s Wells and Kingmambo in the first two generations of his pedigree, Ulysses combines three of the most potent Classic stallions of recent decades. Kingmambo’s contribution included seven British Classic winners, thanks to King’s Best and Henrythenavigator in the G1 2000 Guineas, Russian Rhythm and Virginia Waters in the G1 1000 Guineas, Light Shift in the Oaks and both Rule of Law and Encke in the St Leger. Although the Derby escaped Kingmambo’s grasp, his son King’s Best was responsible for the 2010 Derby winner Workforce (GB) and it was a daughter of Kingmambo who produced the 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot (GB).

It is well worth adding that Kingmambo’s broodmare daughters have shone not only with Galileo but also with Galileo’s half-brother Sea The Stars (Ire). The Gilltown resident has sired 27% black-type winners from Kingmambo mares, including the French G1 winners Zelzal (Fr) and Cloth of Stars (Ire). The G1 Prix Ganay winner Cloth of Stars has a very similar pedigree to Ulysses. In addition to both being by sons of Arc winner Urban Sea, both have daughters of Kingmambo and Lingerie as their dam. Ulysses’ dam Light Shift was a year older than her sister Strawberry Fledge, who raced just once for the Niarchos family before being sold for 110,000gns as a 4-year-old. As Ulysses is the last of Light Shift’s three foals, the Niarchos team must be wishing that Strawberry Fledge had been retained.

Even so, the Niarchos team has enjoyed terrific value for the $530,000 paid by Stavros Niarchos in 1982 for Ulysses’s third dam, the Northern Dancer filly Northern Trick. Mention of this mare brings back memories of Northern Dancer’s truly extraordinary 1981 crop. Although this crop contained only 31 named foals, they included seven group winners and no fewer than four Classic winners. This fabulous four comprised El Gran Senor (2000 Guineas and G1 Irish Derby), Secreto (who short-headed El Gran Senor in the Derby), Sadler’s Wells (G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and second in the G1 French Derby) and Northern Trick (a five-length winner of the G1 Prix de Diane). No wonder it took a bid of $1 million to secure a nomination to Northern Dancer at Matchmaker’s 1985 January sale. Northern Trick was highly talented. Her easy Diane success was gained at the main expense of the previously unbeaten Grise Mine, while Northern Trick’s main victim in the G1 Prix Vermeille was Circus Plume, winner of the Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. Her effort in the Arc was also first rate. In taking second place behind Sagace, she finished at least six lengths clear of the remainder, which included Strawberry Road, Sadler’s Wells, Rainbow Quest and the Classic-winning fillies Sun Princess, Time Charter and Princess Pati. Timeform rated her 131.

Northern Trick also had first-rate bloodlines. The third of four stakes winners to represent the un-raced Trick Chick, she was a half-sister to On The Sly, winner of the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup. Northern Trick’s second dam Fast Line had distinguished herself by producing White Star Line, winner of the GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Alabama S., to Northern Dancer and the GI Prix Morny winner Filiberto to Ribot. As sometimes happens, though, outstanding racemares prove disappointing as broodmares. It wasn’t until Northern Trick was 20 in 2001 that she finally produced a stakes winner, at the 12th attempt. This represented pretty much a last shake of the dice, as her mate was Keos, a Niarchos colour-bearer who stood at only $5,000. Keos succeeded where so many others had failed and his daughter Onda Nova won the 2004 Listed Prix Imprudence.

However, it has been Northern Trick’s non-winning Shirley Heights filly Lingerie (GB) who has almost single-handedly ensured that Northern Trick is not forgotten. Lingerie raced 10 times as a 3-year-old but she kept finding at least one too good, including when sent to places like Vichy and Amiens. She ended up with the frustrating record of four seconds at up to a mile and a half. Fortunately Lingerie has proved a much better producer than Northern Trick. Light Shift was her fourth black-type winner and third group scorer. The first two were Limnos (Jpn), a dual Group 2 middle-distance winner in France, and Shiva (Jpn), who gained champion status at around a mile and a quarter, thanks notably to her win in the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup. These two were siblings, by the Japanese-based Hector Protector.

Much of the good work done for this family has been by Northern Trick’s Caerleon filly Burning Sunset (GB). In addition to producing the G2 Prix d’Harcourt winner Smoking Sun to Smart Strike, she is also the second dam of Main Sequence, the Derby runner-up who went on to become a champion turf performer in the U.S.  No fewer than four of Lingerie’s daughters have so far produced group winners. We therefore probably haven’t heard the last of this excellent family, which carries the Niarchos hallmark. Light Shift, Kingmambo, Lingerie, Miesque, Northern Trick, Nureyev and Pasodoble all raced for the Niarchos family, which must make Ulysses’s win all the more satisfying.


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