THE SUSSEX Stakes has had such high standards in recent years, it would now be a disappointment if there was ever a renewal of the race that didn’t throw up a classic duel or great story.
And there was no chance of this year’s race being anything less than memorable as last year’s champion Toronado took on leading three-year-old miler John Gosden.
Sure enough, it was a thriller as Kingman – owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, the same man who owned Frankel, he of those memorable Sussex Stakes wins in 2011 and 2012 – found an impressive burst under James Doyle over the final couple of furlongs to defeat Toronado and Richard Hughes, thwarting their own attempt to become only the second horse after Frankel to win it twice.
Now, the crowds are already anticipating next year’s £300,000 showpiece race and wondering two things: will Kingman be in training still and come back to defend his crown? And who of this year’s two-year-olds will be up to giving him a run for his money? It’s a fabulous prosect even with 364 days to go.
Kingman’s trainer John Gosden was thrilled by the victory.
Gosden has now saddled 129 Goodwood winners, of which 30 have been at the Glorious meeting,and said: “James (Doyle) said the horse was happy on today’s ground, but he just took a little organising with two and a half furlongs to run - at the furlong marker he was in control again.
“James has a cool head and didn’t panic, and the horse has a gear and then another gear. Today he only had to use one gear, but that was the same for all the horses because they only had a chance to use one gear. I had an old MGB GT in which you could get into fifth and then flick a button and go again, and this horse has that button as you saw in the St James’s Palace [Stakes at Royal Ascot].
“He’s in the Prix Jacques Le Marois which comes up pretty quick on August 17, but the QEII has always been the big, big target and that remains the plan. So we will keep winding it back from there. I’m not keen on the Prix du Moulin, so he could go straight to the QEII.”
Asked if he felt it likely that Kingman would stay in training at four, Gosden said: “That’s not my department. It’s very much Prince Khalid’s choice, and I’m sure we will all have a lunch and discuss it in depth.”
Thursdays brings what should be another race to remember – the Group 2 Artemis Goodwood Cup.