Ulysses and Cloth Of Stars: Relatives and Rivals


Cheveley Park Stud's Ulysses has his first 3-year-old runners this season | Amy Lanigan


The mantra of breeding the best to the best can really only be followed by those with access to mares classy enough to be courted by the world's elite stallions. And if you're fortunate enough to be in that bracket, then sending your Oaks winner to a Derby winner could be deemed an obvious place to start. 

We lost the most influential Derby winner of the modern era almost a year ago but it will be a while before Galileo (Ire) retreats too far back in pedigrees. In his first season Galileo covered the Harris family's Oaks winner Love Divine (GB) (Diesis {GB}), resulting in the St Leger winner Sixties Icon (GB), who remains an extremely useful but under-used sire at Norman Court Stud at the age of 19.

Eight years younger is the 2014 Derby winner Australia (GB), another son of Galileo and appropriately enough bred by the man whose forebear, the 12th Earl of Derby, gave his name to the great race, having a year earlier named the fillies' equivalent after his Surrey home, The Oaks. Australia is of course out of the present Lord Derby's Ouija Board (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), the brilliant winner of the Oaks and plenty more.

With a tenth-place finish in the sires' tables and progeny earnings in excess of £2 million, it is fair to say that Australia had a breakthrough year in 2021, adding Mare Australis (Ire) and Broome (Ire) to his list of Group 1 winners. The latter's full-brother Point Lonsdale, one of four Group 2 winners for Australia last year, won the G2 Futurity S. following the Chesham and the G3 Tyros S., and will hopefully be setting out soon on the Classic trail.

It will not have escaped the attention of those who monitor the sire lists carefully that another young stallion with a very similar profile made late headway among the freshmen of 2021 to put himself firmly in the 'follow with interest' category for this season. 

Ulysses (Ire), beautifully bred by one excellent breeder and standing at the farm of another, is a horse that plenty of people will be rooting for to succeed. The Niarchos family's son of Galileo and the last of Henry Cecil's eight Oaks winners, Light Shift (Kingmambo), retired to Cheveley Park Stud in 2018 at a fee of £30,000. He now stands for a third of that price and could be pretty good value at that if his first crop of 3-year-olds can go on to confirm the promise hinted at last season. 

There was no 2-year-old stakes winner for Ulysses, though Piz Badile (Ire) and Gwan So (GB) were Group 3- and Listed-placed respectively, but the tally of individual winners grew to 16 by the end of the season, a rate of 40% winners to runners. It also placed Ulysses five winners ahead of Time Test (GB) and only one behind Zarak (Fr), two sons of Dubawi (Ire) who were all the rage by season's end. 

Six of those winners were rated 80 or above, while the multiple place-getter Gwan So earned a rating of 102 before heading south to join Annabel Neasham's Sydney stable. 

At 105, Piz Badile achieved the top rating of his sire's runners to date and, like Ulysses, was bred by the Niarchos family on a very interesting pattern which sees him inbred 3×3 to the extremely accomplished mare Lingerie (GB) (Shirley Heights {GB}) through her daughters Light Shift and the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Shiva (Jpn) (Hector Protector). Ulysses is himself inbred to Mr. Prospector and Special, while Mr. Prospector also pops up top and bottom in Piz Badile's dam, That Which Is Not (Elusive Quality). 

Piz Badile holds several Classic entries including the Derby, in which Mighty Ulysses (GB), whose dam is a three-part-sister to Golden Horn (GB), is also entered. 

Bred by Hascombe & Valiant Studs but raced by Saeed Suhail, having been bought from Tattersalls October Book 1 for 170,000gns, Mighty Ulysees has run once and won once–rather impressively–for the Gosden stable. Like Golden Horn, who won the Derby, Eclipse, Irish Champion and Arc at three, he enters his Classic season on the back of that solo success. 

Of the 87 in that first crop, another two sons of Ulysses have, like Gwan So, been exported to Australia, one of which is in the Victorian stable of Danny O'Brien.

Closer to home, it will be worth keeping an eye on the progress of World Without Love (GB), the three-part-sister to the classy stayers Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) and Sir Ron Priestley (GB) (Australia {GB}), as she embarks on her 3-year-old season following two fourth-placed finishes at two in the colours of her breeder Mascalls Stud. Also of note on paper is Cheveley Park Stud's unraced 3-year-old filly out of the speedy and high-class Hooray (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}). Named Victory Clap (GB), she is, like her mother before her, under the tutelage of Sir Mark Prescott.

From the current crop of 2-year-olds, the bestseller at 300,000gns was a half-brother to the G3 Nell Gwyn S. winner Sacred (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) from the family of the top-class Lady Eli (Divine Park) who is now in training with John and Thady Gosden. Just along Newmarket's Bury Road, Ulysses's former trainer Sir Michael Stoute has the 2-year-old half-brother to the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Albigna (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), now named Falcon Nine (GB), while farther along still Jane Chapple-Hyam is listed as the trainer of Eyetrap (GB), a three-part-brother to G2 Queen's Vase winner Dashing Willoughby (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

Given that we didn't see the best of Ulysses until he was four when he won the G1 Coral-Eclipse and G1 Juddmonte International, his results to date have been promising and he will doubtless continue to be closely scrutinised. So too should be his very close relative Cloth Of Stars (Ire), who has his first 2-year-old runners this year.

By Galileo's half-brother Sea The Stars (Ire) and out of Strawberry Fledge, a full-sister to Light Shift, Cloth Of Stars was bred by Peter Anastasiou and bought for 400,000gns as a yearling by John Ferguson. He flew the Godolphin blue banner with great credit in France, where he was trained by Andre Fabre. A more forward type than Ulysses, Cloth Of Stars won on debut at two, and followed up with victory in the G3 Prix des Chenes and a second in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud. At three, he won the G2 Prix Greffulhe and G3 Prix La Force.

Kept in training at four, Cloth Of Stars hit the ground running that spring with three consecutive group wins culminating in his defeat of Zarak in the G1 Prix Ganay. He closed his season by finishing second to Enable (GB) in the Arc, finishing one place ahead of Ulysees, who bowed out after that run. Their great grand-dam, the champion race filly Northern Trick (Northern Dancer), had also finished runner-up in the Arc with a notable crew finishing behind her, including Sadler's Wells, Strawberry Road, All Along (Fr), Time Charter (GB) and Sun Princess (GB).

Cloth Of Stars raced on at four, adding three more Group 1 placings to his tally, including another podium finish in the Arc.

The 9-year-old has covered at least 120 mares in each of his three seasons at Haras du Logis, and has more than 90 juveniles to run for him this term. What's more, his stock, many of them a deep brown like himself, were popular at the French sales from the start. His two most expensive yearlings, now named Loughcrew (Fr) and Birr Castle (Fr) and bought for €280,000 and €170,000 respectively, are both owned by Godolphin and in training with Andre Fabre, who also has the filly Apaniiwa (Fr) for his wife Elisabeth. 

While the bulk of his first crop have remained in France, the colt Star (Fr), a half-brother to Gold (Fr) (Golden Horn {GB}), is in the UK with Archie Watson, and Roger Varian is listed as the trainer of a half-brother to GII John C Mabee S. winner Elektrum (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}), who was a €95,000 yearling purchase. 

It has been a little disappointing to see a number of talented sons of Sea The Stars head straight to the National Hunt division at stud, albeit Flat breeders are still perfectly entitled to send mares to them. Cloth Of Stars is to date one of three Group 1 winners by Sea The Stars out of a Kingmambo mare. One of that trio, Zelzal (Fr), is a year ahead of him at stud and was represented by 11 first-crop winners last year, including the Listed Prix Saraca winner Zelda (Fr). Zelzal's daughter Ouraika (Fr) was exported to the U.S. last year and recently won the GIII Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita for Graham Motion. 

The trio is completed by the unbeaten dual Group 1 winner Baaeed (GB), who remains in training and should be one of the star acts of the 2022 Flat season.

Cloth Of Stars has an equally important year ahead of him in his second career. Though he may not be the quickest off the blocks with runners in the first half of the season, it will be no surprise to see him putting up a bold show towards the autumn. Indeed, the progress of both Cloth Of Stars and his close relation Ulysses will be followed keenly, in 2022 and beyond.

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