Seven horses go to post for the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday (3.05pm). The betting suggests it is a two horse race. It is not.
Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach leads the market at 6/5. Yes, he is a class act who has only been beaten once in nine starts, when he flopped having started as the favourite the Derby. He failed to settle and carted his jockey to the front, ruining his chances of getting the extra half mile. He rapidly redeemed himself when succeeding by the shortest of margins in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot two weeks later.
The concern for punters and the reason he holds less appeal here is that he is once again saddled with Kevin Manning. Family loyalty dictates that Bolger is obliged to keep Manning, his son-in-law, on board. Not only did Manning provide a stunning display of lack of horsemanship in the Derby but he also struggled to contain the stable’s Trading Leather in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last weekend.
No other professional jockey ever appears to be waterskiing, with his hands high in the air, when his mount takes a hold. If Manning once again fails to settle this son of New Approach, the horse will become profoundly beatable.
Bolger has understandably taken the precaution of running Leitir Mor (100/1) as a pacemaker. He must have noticed that Manning needs help. This three-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor, owned and bred by Bolger, has only won in Group 3 company this season. He managed to get second to Dawn Approach when ridden as a pacemaker in the Dewhurst last season but all his recent form suggests that he is unlikely to make the frame here.
It was Richard Hannon’s Toronado that finished a short head behind Dawn Approach in the St James’s Palace Stakes. That seems to be the only form that the bookies have looked at as this son of High Chaparral is the second favourite at 6/4.
The stable had very high hopes for Toronado earlier in the season but a breathing problem became apparent when he could only finish fourth in the 2000 Guineas. He crossed the line more than seven lengths behind Dawn Approach. The use of a bit designed to help his breathing at Royal Ascot seemed to do the trick.
Once again we have concerns over his jockey, Richard Hughes, another son-in-law of the trainer. Not only did he make a massive tactical blunder in one of his rides at Royal Ascot but he seems to be more concerned with the appearance of his riding style than actually driving hard for the line these days. Unlike Manning, he appears to be a true horseman. If a nag needs nursing round and coaxing to the line, he is definitely the man for the job. If you want a jockey to get the better of a talented rival in a thrusting finish, he probably isn’t.
Nepotism in jockey bookings appears to be rife when we see that Aidan O’Brien has his son taking the ride on Declaration Of War but don’t let that put you off this time. This four-year-old son of War Front looks to provide good value at 5/1. He is rated within a few pounds of the two market leaders and is on offer at a much better price.
Yes, he has to shoulder eight pounds more than his three-year-old rivals but he is a strongly built individual who should bear the burden better than more lightly structured types.
Young Joseph O’Brien may have been on the receiving end of some criticism recently but, unlike Manning, he has the ability to settle enthusiastic horses. Unlike Hughes, he is prepared to chuck the kitchen sink at a horse if that is what is required to win in a close finish.
Most importantly, Declaration Of War is a class act that seems to have slipped under the radar in this race. Has everyone forgotten his impressive win in the Queen Anne Stakes (also over a mile) at Royal Ascot? Have they also forgotten that Declaration Of War posted a faster time than Dawn Approach over the same distance on the same day?
Probably. They just remember that he got beaten by Roger Charlton’s stunningly talented Al Kazeem in the Eclipse over a mile and two furlongs. Declaration Of War may be bred to get that distance but his form to date suggests that he is at his best over a mile. He has to be taken very seriously here.
The Queen Anne Stakes form also suggests that John Gosden’s Gregorian (best at 33/1 with BetVictor) stands more of a chance than his odds would suggest. He finished just over length behind Declaration Of War in third. It seems unlikely that this four-year-old son of Clodovil will be able to reverse the placings with O’Brien’s horse but, if one of the favoured two market leaders flops, he could well run into a place. He will be partnered by stable jockey William Buick, who is no relation to the trainer.
Trade Storm (33/1) is the oldest horse in the race at five and looks to be up against it here. Only two horses of the same age have won this race since the turn of the century.
He finished fifth in the Queen Anne, over two lengths behind Gregorian. Most recently David Simcock’s son of Trade Fair came fourth in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot on 13 July. He looks unlikely to feature at the finish here.
The same can be said of Aidan O’Brien’s Reply (100/1). He has been entered as a pacemaker for Declaration Of War and would need a minor miracle to feature at the business end of the race.
Looking at the big picture, Dawn Approach and Toronado are so closely matched that neither offer any value, especially when you consider the weaknesses of their respective jockeys.
So who is the best bet?
Dawn Approach and Toronado are obviously talented but our betting tip has to be Declaration Of War (biggest at 5/1 with BetVictor, Paddy Power, SkyBet, Stan James) who seems to provide much better value in the Sussex Stakes.
Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.