Sussex Stakes Preview: Raiders Go Toe to Toe
This time next week, two of the world’s best milers will go toe to toe on the Goodwood downs in the hope of claiming the Sussex Stakes. Gleneagles who put in a marvellous display at Ascot is 8/11 favourite having performed imperiously all season. His main challenger comes from across the channel in France – Solow. Freddie Head’s French raider, the older of the two, has won six races in a row claiming some major names in the process. He’s priced up as the 6/4 second favourite and it’s hard to envisage this race being anything other than a battle between these two as they come to the line.
The international rankings rate Solow at 124 and Gleneagles 122 making Solow superior to Gleneagles by 2lbs. On the bare ratings this makes Solow’s quote of 6/4 look very attractive. However, on form Gleneagles looks to have demonstrated more this season. He demolished the field in the St James’ Palace Stakes; he beat Ivawood in less than ideal conditions in the Irish 2000 Guineas and in the English equivalent produced a scintillating display when winning with a fair amount in hand.
Solow’s efforts have seen far less coverage this season with his defeat of The Grey Gatsby going relatively unnoticed in the UK. His comfortable victory in the Prix D’Lspahan was a good performance but Cirrus Des Aigles lost a shoe mid-race and this has made the form hard to assess. Solow’s Queen Anne Stakes victory has been his best by far this season when beating Esoterique by a length. Cougar Mountain, Toormore and Night of Thunder were all in behind that day and gave their running which rates as an extremely solid piece of form.
It’s possible that the current market favours the one it knows more about – Gleneagles. One of the superstar horses of the year, this Aidan O’Brien colt has set alight the eight furlong code this year and a Sussex Stakes would set him up for a crack at the Irish Champion Stakes in September. However, if any horse were likely to beat Gleneagles over a mile this season it would have to be Solow. His lightening turn of foot is very similar to that of Gleneagles but the former can produce this on softer ground compared to Gleneagles who needs it good or firmer.
Of the rest, Night of Thunder and Toormore look the main opponents to the top two. They were both very well held by Solow in the Queen Anne and it’s hard to envisage how the Hannon trained pair can reverse that form in the Sussex. The lightly raced Arod might be a small bit of value against the field at this stage if punters look for alternatives but that’d be more hopeful than anything.
At this stage it is difficult to foresee any withdrawals from the race. The weather forecast is mixed (as to be expected in a British summer) and it could hold the biggest key to the outcome of this race. Gleneagles will certainly be disadvantaged by the slower going whereas Solow will prefer it and vice versa with firmer ground. At this point, Solow may be the value at 6/4 against Gleneagles who could be artificially short given Solow’s lower profile in the UK.