Galileo Gold, Awtaad and The Gurkha, who have won the three major European versions of the 2,000 Guineas this year, headline 14 six-day confirmations for the £1-million Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes.
The fabulous feature contest will be staged over a mile on day two of the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Wednesday, July 27.
The three colts have already met in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 14, when QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero Galileo Gold (Hugo Palmer) cemented his place as Europe’s top three-year-old miler with a length and a quarter success over The Gurkha, with Awtaad in third.
Galileo Gold, who runs in the colours of Al Shaqab Racing, also boasts winning form at Goodwood, having captured the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at the first Qatar Goodwood Festival in 2015.
The Gurkha, an emphatic winner of the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (the French 2,000 Guineas) at Deauville in May, has subsequently run an excellent race against older opposition in the 10-furlong G1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park on July 2, in which he went down by half a length to fellow three-year-old Hawkbill.
The Coolmore-owned colt is aiming to provide Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth Qatar Sussex Stakes victory following Giant’s Causeway (2000), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Rip Van Winkle (2009).
Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Awtaad (Kevin Prendergast) captured the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 21, when he readily beat Galileo Gold by two and a half lengths.
The six three-year-olds going forward also include G1 Falmouth Stakes heroine Alice Springs, who could bid to become the first filly or mare to win the Qatar Sussex Stakes since Soviet Song in 2004, and G1 Belmont Derby sixth Long Island Sound (both Aidan O’Brien).
The Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester, one of three Godolphin-owned confirmations, was third to Galileo Gold in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas before storming to a decisive victory in the seven-furlong G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15.
Malton-based Fahey commented today: “Ribchester is in great order, we are happy with him and the plan is to go to Goodwood.
“Having won the Jersey Stakes, you would have say that we made the right decision in going for that race, although it does leave a question mark as to what might have happened if he had run in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
“The three-year-olds seem to come forward throughout the season but Ribchester has definitely improved. It’s just a question of how much the others have improved as well.”
Fahey is also set to be represented by stable stalwart Gabrial, who was third to Frankel in the 2012 Qatar Sussex Stakes and filled the same position behind Solow in last year’s race.
The seven-year-old, who is owned by Dr Marwan Koukash, won a Listed race at Windsor in May and came home a close third on his latest start in the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot on July 9.
The trainer added: “Gabrial has been placed in the Qatar Sussex Stakes twice before and Marwan Koukash is very keen to run him again. He is getting older and wiser - you don’t get much out of these older horses at home - but his last two runs have proved that he is very well in himself.”
Other older contenders include G1 Queen Anne Stakes third Lightning Spear (David Simcock) and Toormore (Richard Hannon), who has twice been successful at Goodwood in the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes in 2013 and the G2 Qatar Lennox Stakes last year.
Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam) was second to Solow 12 months ago, while Kodi Bear (Clive Cox) impressively beat Gabrial in the G2 Celebration Mile on soft going at Goodwood’s August Weekend meeting last season.
So Beloved (David O’Meara) was also victorious at Goodwood in August, taking the G3 Supreme Stakes. Richard Pankhurst (John Gosden) and The Happy Prince (Aidan O’Brien) are the final two going forward for the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Wednesday’s card also features the £100,000 G3 Bering Ice Gordon Stakes (2.35pm) over a mile and a half. One of the traditional trials for the final Classic of the season, the Ladbrokes St Leger, seven of the 15 entries also hold entries for the Doncaster race.
They include Algometer (David Simcock), who landed the Listed EBF Stallions Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood in May plus Cook Islands (Aidan O’Brien), Goldmember (David Simcock), Harrison (Mick Channon), Prize Money (Saeed bin Suroor), The Major General (Aidan O’Brien) and Ventura Storm (Richard Hannon). Other entries for the Bering Ice Gordon Stakes include Ulysses (Sir Michael Stoute), who could bid to bounce back from a disappointing Investec Derby run.
There are 19 entries for the feature two-year-old race on Wednesday, the £75,000 G3 Molecomb Stakes (3.45pm) over five furlongs. They include Ardad (John Gosden), winner of the Listed Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and Global Applause (Ed Dunlop), a Listed winner at Sandown Park in May.
The Last Lion (Mark Johnston) was runner-up in the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, while the one Irish-trained contender is Sportsmanship (Aidan O’Brien), a Leopardstown maiden winner last time out.
Day two of the Qatar Goodwood Festival opens with the longest race of the week, the £50,000 Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap (2.00pm, 37 entries) over two miles and five furlongs. Completing Wednesday’s action are the £20,000 Markel Insurance Fillies’ Maiden (4.20pm, 29 entries), the £30,000 EBF Veuve Clicquot Fillies’ Handicap (4.55pm, 13 entries) and the concluding £20,000 NatWest Handicap (5.25pm, 58 entries).
Latest going news
The going at Goodwood remains:
Good - Straight Course
Good to Firm, Good in places - Round Course
Seamus Buckley, Goodwood’s Clerk of the Course, reported on Thursday: “It has been another fine day here, though not as hot as the previous two.
“We will we continue our watering programme tonight on the Straight Course, having watered the Round Course on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
“There is a diminishing possibility of a shower or two tomorrow and we will continue watering to deliver the current going descriptions on the first day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival (Tuesday July 26).
“The £1m Qatar Sussex Stakes on Wednesday is going to be a tremendous race and all of us at Goodwood are really looking forward to it.”
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