SOMETIMES big sporting head-to-heads get all the hype but don’t live up to them. But sometimes they do - as anyone who was at Goodwood to witness the 2013 QIPCO Sussex Stakes will testify.
It was billed as the second Duel on the Downs, two years after Frankel’s win over Canford Cliffs, and it didn’t disappoint. If anything, it was even better than many dared hoped for.
And it had the outcome that many wanted - Toronado beat his big rival Dawn Approach by half a length to make the running score between the pair 2-1 and set up the propsect of an inevitable fourth duel later in the season.
It was especially sweet for Toronado’s winning jockey and trainer Richard Hughes and Richard Hannon, who’d been on the losing side with Canford Cliffs in that 2011 epic.
Toronado, who received a fabulous ovation from the crowd after his half-length win, had lost out to Dawn Approach in both the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’ Palace Stakes - and Hannon was pleased to set the record straight at a course he loves and one at which he so often does well.
The Wiltshire handler has won two races on each of Goodwood’s first two days and will take some beating in the race to be top trainer for the festival.
“I’d say they are two top-class horses,” said Hannon. “I told Hughesie to drop in, it was the only thing he could do from that draw. I didn’t want him to catch the pacemakers coming back. It was looking difficult two furlongs out but our horse has a hell of a turn of foot.
“Hughesie rode him at home four or five days ago and said he was the best he’d ever ridden, even better than Canford Cliffs, who was a very good work horse. I’d have loved him to have won at Ascot but I was just very happy to see him come back to form after his Guineas run.”
Hannon’s son and assistant Richard added: “We’ll see how he comes out of this but the Jacques Le Marois and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes are the obvious races. He’ll stick to a mile this year but he’ll stay in training next season when perhaps he could step up to ten furlongs at some point.”
Hughes added: “He’s proved he’s a brilliant horse. My plan was ‘wide, fast and late’ and luckily it worked. I didn’t want to get into a battle with Dawn Approach so I wanted to get there late and fast.
“They went a good gallop and we saw two wonderful horses, I’m just glad our’s was the most wonderful horse. It’s very sweet.
“When I kicked him in the belly he was not as instant on that ground as he would have been on fast ground. It was a great race and, when I didn’t go by Dawn Approach quickly I thought ‘oh no here we go again’ but he was very brave. He’s brilliant.
“I felt he had come on a little bit at home mentally and he was a more mature horse.
“It was a true race and I was always travelling well. It was just when I went to go, it wasn’t quite as instant as it is in the mornings. I would like to thank Sheikh Joaan for letting me ride him. I read in the paper that I’d keep the ride if we won today so hopefully I can keep riding him.”
Dawn Approach trainer Jim Bolger said Toronado was a deserved winner. He said: “It was a top performance and we were just beaten by a better horse on the day.
“I’m not concerned about rematches. We still have to figure out where we go from here - whatever turns up, turns up. There are a couple of possibilities but time will tell all.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Declaration of War might not have had any of the post-race limelight but ran another very good race to come in third.
The £300,000 showdown was the highlight of day two - but it wasn’t the only high spot for Hannon and Hughes as they claimed a treble.
The second leg of that run came in the next, the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes, a race Hannon has been able to call his own with wins in the past three years. Toormore was their winner this time after going off 5/4 favourite.
This time Hughes left his challenge even later to take the honours on the line from Outstrip and Mickael Barzalona.
Hughes said: “He’s a big baby and I had to help him a lot from the three to the one. I had to grab him, the second horse quickened well and if I went for everything then I wouldn’t have got him, I had to help him everywhere I could. He’s a lovely horse but he’s all mane and tail when you’re on him.
“I was drawn one and didn’t want to get sucked into a race so I dropped him in and he settled lovely.”
There was a familiar feel to the last, the Harwoods Racing Club Handicap, as Hughes and Hannon did it again with 5/1 favourite Magic City, a course and distance winner part owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Once again, Hughes left it late - but no-one knows better than him how to time late charges over the Downs and the cheer from the grandstand was evidence of how many people had backed him to complete a treble.
The opening race of day two - and the longest of the week, the two-mile-five-furlong UBS Goodwood Stakes - gave Goodwood stalwart Mark Johnston his first success of the week as Joe Fanning came with a perfectly-timed run on 7/1 shot Broxbourne, enough to beat the 6/1 favourite Lieutenant Miller, ridden by Tom Queally, by half a length.
Afterwards Johnston’s wife and assistant trainer Deidrie said they were relieved to get off the mark for the week.
Her husband added: “I was bemoaning that fact she won four races earlier in the year and still hadn’t paid for her training fees and entries, but she’s putting that right now. Extreme distances really suit her and she has made up a lot of ground.
“I think there’s a Shergar Cup race for her a week on Saturday and I won’t be able to resist that. Someone said the Cesarewitch at the end of the year could be an option and we’ll have to think about it.”
The Group 3 Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes brought a win for Godolphin’s Cap O’Rushes, ridden by Barzalona, trained by Charlie Appleby - who only got his trainer’s licence last Friday. It was also a maiden Glorious Goodwood winner for jockey Barzalona.
“Last year I was unlucky not to win (on Encke) so I’m very happy to win this year,” said Barzalona.
“We went a nice pace and I was travelling well but I made my challenge when Tom (Queally, on Spillway) came to me.
“He doesn’t show a lot in the morning but he’s a proper Group horse as he showed in the Irish Derby, he deserves to run in another Group One now.”
Appleby said: “We were confident coming in as he ran a decent race in Ireland, he wasn’t there just to make the pace, and he came out of it very well.
“A bit of cut in the ground suited, he’s bred to improve throughout the season and that’s what he’s doing.
“I can’t thank Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin enough for giving me this opportunity and hopefully I’ll repay them by giving them plenty of winners.”
Dane O’Neill gave trainer Henry Candy the win in the Markel Insurance Maiden Fillies’ Stakes on Valonia (3/1 second favourite) while James Doyle scored on Ribbon for James Fanshawe in the British Stallions Studs Turf Club EBF Fillies’ Stakes.
- STEVE BONE
See this website for full coverage of day three from 1pm