The Sussex Stakes is the highlight of Glorious Goodwood, bringing together the top milers of all ages on Wednesday (3.10pm, on Channel 4).
The classic generation look to have strong claims with a trio of Guineas winners but who will fare best on summer ground? Read on for our Sussex Stakes preview with betting tips’ conclusion.
There are reports that the Irish Guineas victor, Kevin Prendergast’s Awtaad (7/1) is flying at home. His jockey Chris Hayes has pointed out that Awtaad has been unfairly pigeon-holed as a soft ground specialist just because he handles it. This colt has encountered little else in Ireland and he definitely has the feet for it, they are unusually large for a thoroughbred. The Curragh was described as yielding when Awtaad got the better of Galileo Gold.
Hayes believes that Awtaad will be better on good ground. His breeding suggests that he could be right. His sire Cape Cross was a fast surface performer. Awtaad is said to have improved since his trip to Royal Ascot where he was beaten nearly two lengths by Galileo Gold in the mud. The only other time Awtaad has been headed in his six starts was first time out making it difficult to draw any conclusions. Whatever Awtaad prefers it is not ideal that Hayes has never ridden round Goodwood before.
Ryan Moore has had plenty of experience here but, like Awtaad, it will be a first visit to the track for Ballydoyle’s The Gurkha (2/1). It is a course that puts pressure on a horse’s balance and agility and is generally unsuitable for heavy-topped giants. There is nothing wrong with The Gurkha’s physique but he is yet to live up to the hype that has surrounded him since his French Guineas win.
He looked extremely impressive at Deauville but his time was a second slower than the equivalent fillies’ race on the day. The Gurkha also had the significant advantage of not being held in the stalls for ages. The field had to wait whilst a farrier attended to him. The Gurkha had the 50/1 shot, First Selection, closest (albeit over five lengths) behind him. First Selection has achieved nothing in his two subsequent starts.
The Gurkha started as the 4/5 favourite in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot but could not catch Galileo Gold. It was a similar story in the Eclipse at Sandown. He started as the 4/6 favourite but, having headed Godolphin’s Hawkbill two furlongs from home, he was beaten half a length. Aidan O’Brien (pictured) thought that his stamina might have been stretched over the extra two furlongs on soft ground. This son of Galileo has only encountered ground described as good at Deauville but French reports of conditions have proved unreliable. This race should tell us how he acts on it.
Hugo Palmer has always considered Galileo Gold (2/1) as a good ground horse but mud did not stop him winning at Royal Ascot by just over a length. Frankie Dettori blamed himself for his two length defeat in the Irish Guineas and was determined not to make the same mistake again. His revised strategy worked perfectly, compensating for the unsuitable conditions.
Galileo Gold not only heads the field by 2lb on ratings but has course form which is particularly relevant at this track. He won his final start as a juvenile here in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, beating Charlie Hills’ Ibn Malik nearly a length, despite stretching Frankie’s arms early on. His one experience of quick ground was successful too. He won his maiden easily on good to firm.
Palmer believes that Galileo Gold has come out of Ascot well and deserves to lead the market. His confidence seems justified.
The other three-year-old in the line-up is Godolphin’s Ribchester (9/1). This son of Ifraaj is rated 6lb below Galileo Gold but was not far behind him at Newmarket, finishing third beaten three and a half lengths. He has won his only start since, in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Last year his trainer Richard Fahey described this colt as a big baby. It is possible that he is still progressing but his style of running suggests that he may find this track a bit sharp. James Doyle has the job of guiding him round it.
A five-year-old who loves Goodwood is Toormore (20/1). Also owned by Godolphin, he won the Lennox Stakes here last year, beating Dutch Connection. In 2014 he was a close second in the same race on good to firm. As a juvenile he took the Vintage Stakes here too.
Toormore’s rating has dropped 5lb to 115 since he won the Group 2 Bet365 Mile at Sandown first time out this season, narrowly beating Dutch Connection again, but he has some excuses. James Doyle made the mistake of pursuing Belardo’s pacemaker too closely in the Lockinge. Toormore took the lead three furlongs out but faded into fifth. Toormore was not disgraced at Royal Ascot next time, finishing two and a half lengths behind Tepin in the Queen Anne on ground he hated.
Tom Marquand may have led at too strong a pace in the Group 2 Summer Mile earlier this month. Toormore faded to finish eighth, beaten six lengths. James McDonald is an excellent judge of pace and rides him for the first time.
Clive Cox’s four-year-old Kodi Bear (25/1) has won here too but that was on soft in August last year and he has not achieved a placing better than sixth since. David O’Meara’s six-year-old So Beloved (40/1) has scored here twice, taking a handicap on fast ground over this distance last year. It was not his fault that he was subsequently disqualified after a banned substance was found in his sample. He has not had much luck since he won a listed race first time out this term and may well run better than his odds suggest.
The only fancied older horse is David Simcock’s five-year-old Lightning Spear (10/1). He looks a fragile type with only nine starts to his name. He was last seen finishing third, beaten less than two lengths in the Queen Anne after an eight month absence. As a son of Pivotal he should have enjoyed the ground but he was runner-up to Arod on good to firm in the Summer Mile at Ascot last year. Lightning Spear is the highest rated horse in the four-year-old plus bracket at 117 but he is unappealing at his current price in this company.
Our Preview’s Sussex Stakes Betting Tip Verdict
Toormore has possible each-way claims at 20/1 but the major prize money looks likely to end up with the three-year-olds in this line-up. The Gurkha is a possible winner but he has been beaten in his last two runs and looks ungenerously priced at 2/1.
- Our preview’s Sussex Stakes betting tip has to be GALILEO GOLD. He has the all-important course form and got the better of his contemporaries on unsuitable ground at Ascot. If he were saddled by Aidan O’Brien he would probably be odds-on, making him an attractive prospect best priced at 2/1 with Coral bookmaker.