Europe’s leading three-year-olds Night Of Thunder and Kingman feature among the star-studded entries for the £300,000 Group One QIPCO Sussex Stakes, run over a mile on the second day of Glorious Goodwood, Wednesday, July 30.
The pair, trained by Richard Hannon and John Gosden respectively, have already clashed twice this season with the score currently at one all. Kingman was four and a half lengths superior in Newbury’s Greenham Stakes on April 12, but a combination of faster ground and a step up to a mile saw Night Of Thunder touch off his rival by half a length in the first Classic of the season, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 3.
The form of the Classic has been franked with Kingman recording a five-length victory over Shifting Power(Richard Hannon), who was fourth at Newmarket, in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on May 24. Kingman and Night Of Thunder are set to meet again in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Night Of Thunder’s owner Saeed Manana, said: “As soon as we get over Royal Ascot we will see what happens, but I’m sure the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is a race we will be looking at for Night Of Thunder.
“He has been going very, very well since Newmarket. He has not done much galloping because he is a horse who doesn’t require a lot of work, but we are very happy with his progress. We thought he was a good horse before Newmarket and he has now proved that he is a good horse. The result in Ireland at the weekend with Kingman and Shifting Power only makes his form look stronger.
“The rivalry between Night Of Thunder and Kingman is exciting and you have to take on good horses if you want to win good races. Night Of Thunder has got a favourite’s or second favourite’s chance at Ascot and I don’t think he will be going off at 40/1 anymore – those days are long gone! I think the ground might be more important to Kingman than it is to us, but then again John Gosden would probably say that’s not the case. It’s a good talking point but we will only know after the race.”
Three-year-olds have dominated the QIPCO Sussex Stakes in recent years, annexing five of the last six renewals, and the Classic generation could also be represented by last year’s champion two-year-old Toormore (Richard Hannon) and Dewhurst Stakes hero War Command (Aidan O’Brien). John Gosden has also entered French 2,000 Guineas fourth Muwaary, while Godolphin’s sole entry is the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf scorer Outstrip (Charlie Appleby).
Richard Hannon’s formidable six-strong entry also includes three of Europe’s leading older horses. Olympic Glory saw off his rivals comfortably in the mile Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 17, while last year’s QIPCO Sussex Stakes hero Toronado and four-time Group One heroine Sky Lantern are both set to reappear at Royal Ascot next month.
Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien also has six contenders, headed by War Command and exciting US import Verrazano. The son of More Than Ready notched up two Grade One victories on dirt for Todd Pletcher in 2013, including a near 10-length demolition in the Haskell Invitational, and shaped with promise when third to Olympic Glory on his turf debut in the Lockinge at Newbury. O’Brien, who has four QIPCO Sussex Stakes successes to his name, could also rely on Darwin, Giovanni Boldini, Illusive and the unraced but highly-regarded Cougar Mountain.
Fellow Irish handler Tom Hogan has entered stable star Gordon Lord Byron, who started 2014 in fine style with a narrow victory in the mile Group One George Ryder Stakes at Randwick, Australia, in March. International interest comes in the shape of Soft Falling Rain, who was an impressive winner of last year’s Group Two Joel Stakes at Newmarket for South African handler Mike de Kock, Prix d’Ispahan runner-upAnodin (Freddy Head) and Chopin (Andreas Wohler), trained in France and Germany respectively.
Adam Waterworth, Managing Director of Goodwood Racecourse, commented: “We are very pleased with the QIPCO Sussex entries and are looking forward to another superb renewal of Goodwood’s top race which is one of Europe’s leading mile races. There is a good mix of three-year-olds and older horses entered – which is what the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is all about.”