Such is its position in the racing calendar, the Sussex Stakes always provides a thrilling feature in a spectacular five days of action at Glorious Goodwood and this year’s renewal will be no different.
With the springtime roar of the Rowley Mile now a distant memory and the pomp and ceremony of Royal Ascot last month’s news, now comes the potentially season-defining test by which our latest stars will be remembered.
And rather than simply being billed as a ‘Duel on the Downs’ between a pair of re-opposing rivals, we’ve got a tremendous trio set to come out to play.
Firstly, there’s Galileo Gold. Frankie Dettori’s big ticket broke the heart of 2,000 Guineas jolly Air Force Blue (and a few others) before suffering defeat in the Irish equivalent and then redeeming himself in the St. James’s Palace Stakes.
As his fortunes have fluctuated, so has his price. The hunter has become the hunted but connections have plenty of reasons to be positive, including last year’s Vintage Stakes win at this track.
Winning the Sussex Stakes would be no mean feat by the Hugo Palmer-trained charge. The super-talented three-year-old would become the first since the mighty Frankel to complete the Guineas – St. James’s Palace – Sussex Stakes triple in the same season should he oblige.
And, of course, it would bring our man Frankie a little closer to that heady number of 3,000 UK winners.
But standing in his way is opposition that cannot be taken lightly.
The Gurkha stormed to success in the French 1,000 Guineas before finding his path to further glories blocked in two outings since that fine May day at Deauville.
Nobody should be discounting a runner trained by the Master of Ballydoyle.
But it remains to be seen how much those recent contests, including the 10f Eclipse earlier in the month, will have taken out of Aidan O’Brien’s mount.
Meanwhile, lest we forget there’s another Classic winner in the field.
Awtaad has been labelled a ‘soft-ground horse’, a claim his jockey Chris Hayes refutes and one which might be made to look a little silly come the end of the big race.
With his form closely matching the leading pair it’s not inconceivable to envisage a reversal.
And finally, what of the others?
Perhaps we’re all too guilty of being too fixated on the three amigos at the top of the betting.
Ribchester ran superbly to grab third in the Guineas before landing the Jersey Stakes.
Meanwhile, last year’s Lennox Stakes winner Toormore and fellow Goodwood victor So Beloved can also put forward claims.
Short-priced winners have been the norm since 20/1 shot Reel Buddy upset the odds 13 years ago.
But whatever happens, the Sussex Stakes is set to produce another fascinating piece of history.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.