Sir Henry’s Sussex Stakes Stunners

Cecil's Stunning Frankel

Cecil's Stunning Frankel

The Qatar Sussex Stakes is the highlight of today’s card at Glorious Goodwood. The one mile showpiece started life as a race for two-year-olds in 1841. In 1878 it became a mile contest for three-year-olds, but took a further hundred years to evolve to its current form, now open to both sexes aged three and above.

The late great Sir Henry Cecil is the events leading trainer with seven victories including the mighty Frankel’s double in 2011 and 2012. It’s worth recalling that he won those races by a combined 11 lengths, destroying the multiple Group 1 winner Canford Cliffs on the first occasion and then pulverising the future Lockinge and Champion Stakes winner Farhh. He truly was an incredible racehorse.

Another one of Cecil’s great milers was the 1979 Sussex winner Kris. He swept through his juvenile campaign undefeated before announcing himself as a quality colt at three when winning the Greenham Stakes at Newbury.  He became favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, despite reports of a few training issues leading up to the Newmarket showpiece. In the event he came off second best to the 20/1 outsider Tap On Wood.

That proved to be something of a blip in an otherwise outstanding season. At Royal Ascot he was an impressive winner of the St. James's Palace Stakes. Kris swept to the front two furlongs from home and held off a persistent challenge from the Lockinge winner Young Generation.

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His victory in the Sussex Stakes was one of his most stunning. Starting the race as a short-priced favourite he again was sent to the front by Joe Mercer two furlongs out. On this occasion he stormed clear to beat Swiss Maid by a yawning five lengths.

He continued his dominance in three further events, winning the Group Two Waterford Crystal Mile, now the Celebration Mile, at Goodwood before another scorching success back at Ascot in Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Carrying seven pounds more than the weight-for-age allowance he again drew clear in the final stages of the race to win by five lengths.  He closed his three-year-old campaign with victory in the seven furlong Challenge Stakes at Newmarket, breaking the course record in the process.

His following season was somewhat disrupted by niggling injuries, though he still managed to break Newbury’s course record in winning the Lockinge Stakes. His final career run proved to be a thriller, and one of his rare defeats. Attempting to win his second Queen Elizabeth II Stakes he was overhauled by the 2,000 Guineas winner Known Fact. The two had battled head to head all the way up the straight before the younger horse got up in the shadow of the post.

A successful career at stud followed where he sired the wonderful filly Oh So Sharp. Kris died at the grand old age of 28.

Outstanding milers such as Kris and Frankel have graced this wonderful race at Goodwood over the years. Sadly the 2,000 Guineas winner Gleneagles was withdrawn from this season’s line-up, leaving the French colt Solow as the leading candidate most likely to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour. His victory in last month’s Queen Anne Stakes may have been a solid rather than spectacular performance, but he appears the class act in today’s field.

The Lockinge winner Night Of Thunder disappointed at Royal Ascot and is capable of much better. The bookies have him down as the danger to the favourite and they are probably spot on. Despite the absence of the best three-year-old, the race still looks an exciting renewal.

Bigstone was the last French winner back in 1993. Freddy Head’s outstanding grey looks primed to follow suit.

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