Frankel heads fine list of Sussex Stakes entries

An all-star entry of 35 led by Frankel has been received for the highlight of Glorious Goodwood, the £300,000 QIPCO Sussex Stakes. The mile contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions’ Series, takes place on Wednesday, July 27, day two of the five-day Glorious Goodwood.

Last year, Canford Cliffs was imperious in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, pipping Rip Van Winkle by a neck cheekily after a superbly-judged Richard Hughes ride. He is one of three entries in 2011 for reigning champion trainer Richard Hannon along with Dick Turpin, a Group One winner in France last season, and Dubawi Gold, who has finished runner-up in both the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the Irish 2,000 Guineas so far this season. Canford Cliffs’ victory for Hannon in 2010 was the handler’s second Sussex Stakes success following Reel Buddy (2003).

Richard Hughes rode Canford Cliffs to victory last year and is looking forward to hopefully partnering the four-year-old again this year.

The jockey said today: “It went great with Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes last year. He just slipped very slightly around a furlong and a half from home, but that was the only scare in the race.”

Canford Cliffs was one of a record-breaking nine winners for Hughes at Glorious Goodwood in 2010 but the jockey is under no illusions as to repeating that feat again this year.

He continued: “Riding nine winners at Glorious Goodwood last year is probably something that will never happen again. I like Goodwood, although you do need a bit of luck on your side when you are riding there. I just hope I didn’t use up all my luck last year!

“All going well, Canford Cliffs will hopefully go to the Sussex Stakes again this year.”

Of course, the horse Dubawi Gold could not catch at Newmarket was Frankel, who put up one of the most spectacular performances ever seen in a Classic when taking the QIPCO 2000 Guineas by six lengths on April 30. The QIPCO Sussex Stakes could be the race for the unbeaten Frankel’s first attempt against all-aged opposition. Henry Cecil, trainer of Frankel, is certainly no stranger to winning the Sussex Stakes, having previously enjoyed success with Bolkonski (1975), Wollow (1976), Kris (1979), Distant View (1994) and Ali-Royal (1997), making him the most successful current handler. Frankel could bid to follow in the footsteps of Bolkonski and Wollow, who both won the 2000 Guineas and the Sussex Stakes in the same season.

Third last season behind Canford Cliffs and Rip Van Winkle in 2010 was Premio Loco and his trainer Chris Wall is seriously considering another shot at the QIPCO Sussex Stakes in 2011. Premio Loco was last seen out at Newbury on May 14, when he was third, again behind Canford Cliffs, in the Group One Lockinge Stakes.

Wall said today: “Last year we supplemented Premio Loco for the Sussex Stakes and we thought that we would enter him at this stage this season. It’s top of the list for his possible engagements at that time of year, so we will probably give it a go if he is well and we think that it is appropriate.

“He probably ran up to the same level of form with Canford Cliffs at Newbury that he did at Goodwood last year. We are going to have to think that if we are going to win a big race like the Sussex Stakes, then Canford Cliffs either has to run below par or not turn up.

“If Canford Cliffs doesn’t run at Goodwood, then I am sure there will be something else to worry about - we might have to take on Frankel! It’s a very strong and competitive division this year and there is a lot of strength in depth.

“It’s quite likely that we might head to Epsom with him for the Diomed Stakes on June 4, as long as the ground doesn’t come up soft. If we don’t go there, then he might go to France for the Prix du Chemin de Fer du Nord at Chantilly on June 12, or alternatively run him in the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket (June 25), where his summer campaign started last year.”

Another trainer with an enviable record in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is Aidan O’Brien, who has sent out the victor three times courtesy of Giant’s Causeway (2000), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Rip Van Winkle (2009). The master of Ballydoyle has 12 entries this time around, more than any other trainer. These include Roderic O’Connor, who was unable to get competitive behind Frankel at Newmarket but subsequently won the Irish 2,000 Guineas in hands of the trainer’s son Joseph at the Curragh on May 21. Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Misty For Me is another possible starter for O’Brien along with Together, who was second in both the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent. Another contender for O’Brien is exciting Australian import So You Think, who won five Group One contests in Australia last season prior to joining Ireland’s champion trainer. The five-year-old has continued where he left off, winning both his starts this season including the Grade One Tattersalls Gold Cup over 10 furlongs at the Curragh on Sunday.

Aljabr (1999), Noverre (2000) and Ramonti (2007) all captured the Sussex Stakes for Godolphin and the Maktoum family’s racing operation is well represented in 2011 with 11 entries, seven of whom are trained by Saeed bin Suroor and the remainder by Mahmood Al Zarooni. Among the bin Suroor-trained contingent are Delegator, who beat all bar the mighty Sea The Stars in the 2009 2000 Guineas and returned to form when taking the Group Two Duke of York Stakes over six furlongs at York on May 11, and Rio De La Plata, a dual Group One winner in 2010. Among the four in the care of Mahmood Al Zarooni are Anna Salai, who looked unlucky when runner-up in last season’s Irish 1,000 Guineas, Biondetti, a Group One winner in Italy last season and fourth when last seen out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November, and the 2010 Racing Post Trophy scorer Casamento.

The last French horse to capture the QIPCO Sussex Stakes was Bigstone in 1993. There is one Gallic entry this year in the Freddy Head-trained Rajsaman, who stayed on strongly close home to take third behind his illustrious stable companion Goldikova in the Group One Prix D’Ispahan at Longchamp on May 22. The four-year-old had previously defeated a decent field to land the Group Two Prix Du Muguet at Saint-Cloud on May 1.

Another interesting contender is Wootton Bassett, who was undefeated in five outings as a two-year-old last season, including in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp. He lost his unbeaten record on his reappearance in the French 2,000 Guineas on May 15, when he faded to finish fifth after leading for much of the way. Dream Ahead, joint champion European two-year-old last season alongside Frankel, is another engaged in the race.

Glorious Goodwood runs from Tuesday, July 26, through to Saturday, July 30, and features high-class action every day at the world’s most beautiful racecourse. For further information and to buy tickets, please go to www.goodwood.co.uk