Another big Sussex Stakes showdown on the cards

Gleneagles looks Goodwood-bound / Picture by Mark Westley
Gleneagles looks Goodwood-bound / Picture by Mark Westley
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GOOODWOOD’S dream of hosting a £1m showdown between two big Royal Ascot winners is alive and kicking.

The trainers of Solow and Gleneagles have both indicated they are likely to send their horses to the Qatar Sussex Stakes at the end of next month.

It would be just the sort of heavyweight clash Goodwood bosses are hoping for in the first year of their big-money sponsorship deal with Qatar.

The £2m prize money Qatar are pumping into Glorious – to be called the Qatar Goodwood Festival – this year alone has seen prize money for the Sussex Stakes, the week’s showpiece contest, shoot up from £300,000 to £1m.

Goodwood racecourse MD Adam Waterworth was at Ascot to see the pretenders to the Sussex crown on Tuesday and said: “The results and reaction to them couldn’t have gone any better for us.

“Solow looked hugely impressive, even if Able Friend, who looked to be his main rival, didn’t run the race everyone expected. And to hear Solow’s trainer Freddy Head talk about the Sussex Stakes afterwards was just what we wanted to hear.

“And Gleneagles is a beautiful horse that ran an excellent race. Aidan O’Brien was talking in similar terms about our race, so at the moment it looks like we’ll have a classic showdown between the best three-year-old miler and the best older miler, which would be the race everyone in racing would want to see.”

Solow and Gleneagles are two of 39 runners currently in the frame for the Sussex Stakes, which takes place on Wednesday, July 29 – day two of five at the Qatar festival.

Able Friend, Night of Thunder, Toormore and Ivawood, who were all in action on the first two days at Royal Ascot with varying degrees of success, are among others entered.

Solow is trained by Head in Chantilly, France, and won the Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of Royal Ascot, by a length.

Solow looked hugely impressive, even if Able Friend, who looked to be his main rival, didn’t run the race everyone expected. And to hear Solow’s trainer Freddy Head talk about the Sussex Stakes afterwards was just what we wanted to hear.

Adam Waterworth

Head said afterwards: “He is a fantastic horse, a great warrior who can do anything – you can wait, you can lead. I didn’t think the pace was that fast and he got caught for speed for a moment, but you are running against the best; what do you expect?

“I hope he lasts and we have many more years with him. Maybe we will come back for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. We’ll see – I’m not going to run in everything that comes, because I want him to last.

“He’s a lovely horse, great balance, great action, great mover, very easy to train, great mind, which is very special because at two and three he was a very nervous horse, wouldn’t travel well and things, so he has changed with time and with racing. I think we will still have some more good days with him.”

Later, dual Guineas winner Gleneagles took the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes with some ease, beating Latharnach by two and a half lengths, marking him out as the best three-year-old miler in Europe.

Trainer O’Brien said: “I don’t think we’ve had a miler as good as him. As a two-year-old he was never going to get up the ratings because he only would only do the minimum – today I was surprised he won by two and a half lengths.

“If it was lovely ground at Goodwood you would want to see him run there (against older milers for the first time in the Qatar Sussex Stakes) and then he could run over ten furlongs if the lads decide that’s what they want to do.”

Goodwood officials are keeping a keen eye on the remainder of the week at Ascot, with a number of other contests set to offer Glorious clues.

STEVE BONE