Glorious Goodwood: Sussex Stakes' quality field taking shape nicely

Solow on his way to the 2015 Sussex Stakes title - could we have another French winner this year? Picture by Tommy McMillan
Solow on his way to the 2015 Sussex Stakes title - could we have another French winner this year? Picture by Tommy McMillan

Classic winners, globetrotters, a former winner and continental challengers feature among 25 remaining entries for the £1-million Qatar Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

The Qatar Sussex Stakes, part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, is the highlight of the five-day Qatar Goodwood Festival, which runs from Tuesday, July 31 to Saturday, August 4, and is one of the world's leading mile races, with a tremendous roll of honour.

The John Gosden-trained Without Parole, owned and bred by John and Tanya Gunther,is the market leader for this year's renewal as he looks to extend his unbeaten record to five. The son of dual Sussex Stakes winner Frankel (2011 & 2012) registered a half-length success on his latest outing in the G1 St James's Palace Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot on June 19.

Britain and Ireland's reigning champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien has won the Qatar Sussex Stakes five times, most recently with The Gurkha in 2016.

The master of Ballydoyle has seven horses still in contention for the G1 contest over a mile including Gustav Klimt, who was second to Without Parole at Royal Ascot, and G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes scorer Rhododendron. Dual G1 winners Happily and Hydrangeaare also still engaged, along with Deauville, Clemmie and Threeandfourpence.

Godolphin has won the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes on three occasions courtesy of Aljabr (1999), Noverre (2001) and Ramonti (2007), will the trio all trained by Saeed bin Suroor. The Newmarket handler has Benbatl, winner of the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan in March, going forward.

Godolphin's famous blue silks could also be carried by Wootton (Henri-Alex Pantall FR), who ran fourth in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp in May, before finishing third to Without Parole in the G1 St James's Palace Stakes.

French interest also comes from the progressive Orbaan, trained by Andre Fabre, successful in the 1987 renewal with Soviet Star. The three-year-old son of Invincible Spirit finished second on his first start at Longchamp over a mile in April, but has scored decisively in two efforts since, at Maisons-Laffitte in May and latterly at Saint-Cloud in a Listed contest on July 1.

Ted Voute, Racing Manager to owner Prince A A Faisal, revealed: "Orbaan is in really good form and he has come out of his run at Saint-Cloud really well.

"He is in the Qatar Sussex Stakes and we will also enter him in the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood on August 3. We are currently keeping our options open with him.

"He won nicely the other day and we are yet to make a decision as to whether we continue to make tiny steps with him and go for the G3 contest or big steps and head for the Sussex Stakes.

"Andre came up with the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes plan in the last couple of days, as following his Listed win, the Sussex Stakes had been the main aim and original plan.

"He will be in both races and we will make a decision nearer the time as to where he ends up running. One factor that could be important is whether the field for the Sussex Stakes breaks up.

"If that race does break up, we might go for the Sussex Stakes, but we will wait a while before making a final decision. We are covering all bases with him at the moment.

"Orbaan won nicely at Saint-Cloud last time out. That was the 3rd run of his life, but we were very pleased and he is progressing with each run.

"He is lightly-raced and there is every possibility that he may stay in training as a four-year-old."

Other eye-catching contenders going forward include 2017 G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes victor Here Comes When (Andrew Balding), who bids to become the second dual winner of the contest along with the mighty Frankel. He is joined by stablemate Beat The Bank, who impressed when capturing the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at the 2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes runner-up Lightning Spear,winner of the G2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood in both 2016 and 2017, plus stable companion Teppal, winner of the French 1,000 Guineas, could both represent Newmarket trainer David Simcock, whilst David O'Meara is triple-handed courtesy of Queen Anne Stakes runner-up Lord Glitters,globetrotting seven-year-old Suedois and So Beloved.

The G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes is a rare omission from Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's extensive list of big-race successes and he has two remaining entries in an attempt to win the mile contest for the first time. They are Gabr (Sir Michael Stoute), second to Without Parole in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown in May, and Emaraaty (John Gosden), who disappointed when well-beaten in the G3 Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs at Royal Ascot last time out, having previously finished second to Society Power (William Haggas) in a competitive handicap at Goodwood in May.

Khalid Abdullah is the joint winning-most owner of the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes with seven victories, the latest of which came in 2014 with Kingman. Abdullah's colours could be carried in this year's renewal by the unexposed colt Imaging, trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland. The three-year-old son of Oasis Dream finished second to Gustav Klimt over seven furlongs on heavy ground in April, before scoring impressive in Listed company at Naas on May 7.

French 2000 Guineas second Hey Gaman (James Tate), German G2 scorer Stormy Antarctic (Ed Walker) and Threading (Mark Johnston), second to Alpha Centauri in the G1 Coronation Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot, complete the 25 going forward.

The six-day confirmation and £75,000 supplementary entry stage for the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes is on Thursday, July 26.

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