Sir Michael Stoute is keeping his fingers crossed Ulysses avoids any trouble in running in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.
It is seven years since the master of Freemason Lodge claimed his first and only previous success in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest with Epsom Derby hero Workforce.
This year’s candidate heads to Paris with similarly strong claims, having struck twice at Group One level this season in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York.
However, from stall one, Stoute admits Ulysses will need the ball to bounce in his favour, especially with John Gosden’s brilliant filly and red-hot favourite Enable in the field.
“He’s very well and we’re pleased with the way his preparation has gone,” Stoute told ITV Racing.
“Stall one is all right, he just needs luck in running. With 18 of them, there’s plenty of scope for argy-bargy.
“I’ll have a chat with Jim (Crowley) about tactics, but he’s a very straightforward horse.
“I think nearly all of us would like the ground to be reasonable and not monsoon-like.
“We’ll just have to try to take on Enable and see what happens.”
Enable is right alongside Ulysses in stall two and connections are hoping she can cap a dream season with yet another top-level triumph.
Teddy Grimthorpe is racing manager for Enable’s owner Khalid Abdullah, who has won the Arc four times with Rainbow Quest (1985), Dancing Brave (1986), Rail Link (2006) and Workforce.
Grimthorpe said: “Everything that needs to be said and done has been and we’re now waiting for the stalls to open.
“The way that she’s progressed throughout the summer has has been magnificent. To win the four Oaks – the Cheshire Oaks, the English Oaks, the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks – with the King George interspersed, how could you dream about that? It’s fantastic.
“You never know what to make of the draw at Chantilly. It depends so much on so many different factors.
“She’s going into it in good form, so we have to be hopeful.”
Frankie Dettori will bid for a fifth Arc success aboard Enable, but is not getting carried away.
He told At The Races: “Of course I’m very excited, but I’ve got a job to do.
“If I could have picked a stall I’d have liked nine. Ulysses is drawn one but he comes from behind, so I’ve got 16 others to worry about on my left.
“If she breaks clean then it’s a wonderful draw, but you don’t get a second chance if you have a mishap.”
One of the talking points heading into this year’s Arc is the apparent lack of strength in the home challenge.
In form terms at least, the leading French hope is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Brametot, who won both the French Guineas and Derby back in the spring.
Unfortunately the wheels fell off in his prep race when he was slowly away and was eventually well beaten by Eminent at Deauville, when it subsequently emerged he had injured his back.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for Al Shaqab, majority shareholders in Brametot, said: “He’s won at Chantilly so we don’t have to worry on that score.
“What he has to do is break on terms, if he jumps out slowly, well, you don’t want to be giving horses like Enable and Ulysses a start, it will be hard enough to beat them on a level playing field.
“Of course, over a mile and a half for the first time it will be slightly more forgiving if he is slowly out, but we’d obviously rather he was closer to the pace than he has been in the past.
“He’s over the back problem he had at Deauville and and he looks much better.
“We’d like to think he’s going with a chance.”
Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Zarak could hardly be better bred being by Dubawi out of an Arc winner in Zarkava.
The four-year-old has only won four of his 12 races, but did strike at the highest level last time out.
“He looks very well, he had his main gallop at Maisons-Laffitte with two pacemakers, it was like a little race, and he did very well,” said De Royer-Dupre.
Adrie de Vries rides Dschingis Secret, winner of the Prix Foy, for German trainer Markus Klug.
“We’d be delighted if he finished in the first four,” said De Vries.
“He can win, but he’s got a little bit to find to beat Enable. It’s a horse race, anything can happen.”
Satono Diamond represents Japan but he failed to shine in his prep race in the Prix Foy.
Kazuhiro Nakazawa, assistant trainer to Yasutoshi Ikee, said: “He’s in good condition, he’s much better than before the prep race.
“He did not like the ground then, it was a little bit heavy. He prefers fast ground. Heavy ground in France is not like in Japan.
“He’s much better than before.”