Top Five Contenders For Glory At The Sussex Stakes

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Updated: August 2, 2017
Aidan O'Brien (2)

The Sussex Stakes promises to deliver one of the greatest battles of the flat season when the race commences at Glorious Goodwood.

Champions will collide in the meet, with horses that tasted victory at Royal Ascot set to duel it out for the crown at the famous course.

Ribchester put in an excellent performance at Ascot with a fine run to triumph at the Queen Anne Stakes; therefore, he has been considered Oddschecker’s top tip to secure the victory at Goodwood, ahead of many fierce competitors.

Churchill and Barney Roy have split the two encounters, with the former coming out on top at the 2,000 Guineas, only for Richard Hannon’s charge to bounce back with a fine outing to win the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Thunder Snow and Lancaster Bomber will make up a very intriguing battle at the top. We’ll now break down the five horses that will be competing for the crown that The Gurkha won last term.

Ribchester

 

Source: Goffs1866 via Twitter

After a steady start to his career, the four-year-old has come to the fore over the last year, dominating in his last two outings.

He enjoyed mild success in his early outings, winning two out of his opening five meets, but it was his first appearance at Ascot that brought out the best in Richard Fahey’s charge as he delivered a brilliant performance to win the Jersey Stakes.

Ribchester entered the Sussex Stakes last year with momentum but just lost out down the final furlong to the pace of The Gurkha, finishing a short head behind second-place Galileo Gold.

The Bay Colt proved his quality by bouncing back by claiming victory at the Prix Jacques Le Marois, beating out his nearest rival Vadamos by half-a-length at Deauville.

The stage was set for a perfect end to the 2016 season at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot but he was fractionally defeated by Minding down the final stretch.

He finished third to begin the new year in Meydan, although the best was yet to come from Fahey’s horse as he dominated at the Lockinge Stakes, winning the race by a comfortable margin.

Ribchester found his rhythm at Royal Ascot with a fine performance to triumph in the Queen Anne Stakes. The four-year-old beat out Mutakayyef by one-and-a-quarter lengths to take the crown, sending him into Goodwood with momentum.

Churchill

Aidan O’Brien’s charge had a truly dominant stretch for a year of his career when he knew nothing other than victory between his first appearance at Ascot to the Irish Guineas.

Churchill was considered the favourite to win the Chesham Stakes in only the second race of his career and he duly delivered on expectations, clinching the victory ahead of Isomer.

He just had the pace to make it two wins on the bounce at the Tykos Stakes in Leopardstown, edging out Alexios Komnenos by the tightest of margins at the finish.

Two trips to Curragh yielded back-to-back triumphs as he put forward outstanding displays to win the Futurity Stakes and the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

His excellent form continued until the end of the year, signing off in 2016 with dominant display down the stretch to win the Dewhurst Stakes ahead of Lancaster Bomber.

Churchill could not have scripted a stronger start to the new campaign, meeting expectations at Newmarket to beat out Barney Roy for the 2,000 Guineas. Despite an increase in distance, the three-year-old was even better in the Irish Guineas at Curragh, winning by at a canter to claim the crown.

However, O’Brien’s charge tasted defeat for the first time since the opening race of his career, as Barney Roy earned his revenge at the St James’s Palace Stakes, with the Bay Colt struggling to find his pace back in fourth place.

Barney Roy

 

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Richard Hannon’s charge had been considered a foil for Churchill given the strong start to his career. He began his racing life with a fine performance at the Maiden Stakes at Haydock Park, blowing out the favourite Fujaira Bridge by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

The Bay Colt began the 2017 season at the Greenham Stakes and he did not disappoint. Dream Castle was considered the favourite, but Barney Roy unleashed another powerful display to claim the second win of his career by two lengths.

His first encounter against Churchill was a losing effort at the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The three-year-old matched the pace of his rival for the majority of the race but lacked the shift in gear down the final furlong, losing out by a length.

However, he bounced back with a vengeance at the St James’s Palace Stakes in his first appearance at Ascot. Barney Roy produced a near-flawless outing to beat his rivals for sheer pace, securing the title by a comfortable margin after overcoming a difficult start to the meet.

The three-year-old could not notch two wins on the bounce at the Eclipse. Hannon’s charge produced a decent outing and a strong finish down the final stretch but not even that was enough to overhaul Ulysses at the top, losing out by a nose.

Thunder Snow

 

Source: NBC12 via Twitter

Saeed bin Suroor’s charge began his career with a victory at the Maiden Stakes in Leicester, winning the meet with relative ease, despite not being considered the favourite. However, he was well off the pace in his first appearance at Royal Ascot, finishing sixth in the Coventry Stakes.

Thunder Snow recovered with second-place finishes at the Vintake Stakes and Champagne Stakes but, on his return to major action, he was among the field well beaten by Churchill at the Dewhirst Stakes at Newmarket. The Irish horse ended his 2016 campaign on a high note by triumphing in the Criterium International in Saint-Cloud with a dominant performance.

That sparked back-to-back wins in Meydan in the early months of 2017, winning the UAE 2,000 Guineas and UAE Derby with two solid outings.

He missed the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket but returned to take on Churchill once again at the Irish Guineas. He was comfortably defeated once again by O’Brien’s charge.

The three-year-old did get the better of his foe at Royal Ascot but even that was only good enough for third place behind Barney Roy and Lancaster Bomber.

A return overseas yielded his first victory of the year. At Chantilly, Thunder Snow notched a fine victory to win the Prix Jean Prat to send him into the Sussex Stakes with momentum.

Lancaster Bomber

The American horse has been in contention at the major races, but only has one victory to his name, which came in the second race of his career. O’Brien’s charge secured a narrow win at the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Maiden at Leopardstown by a short head.

However, he followed that performance up with two poor outings against Churchill at the Futurity Stakes and Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, finishing well off the pace.

The Bay Colt did improve towards the end of the campaign, bouncing back at Newmarket, although he was still one-and-three-quarter lengths behind Churchill.

The three-year-old again was solid in his final outing of 2016 but finished second behind his compatriot Oscar Performance at the Breeders’ Cup.

At the start of the new campaign, Lancaster Bomber was slightly off the pace of Churchill at the 2,000 Guineas, although he did press hard for second, just finishing behind Barney Roy and Al Wukair.

The American horse had a race to forget at the Irish Guineas as he never put himself in contention for the crown and could only watch as Churchill romped to another victory – almost bringing up the rear himself in fifth place.

However, he put in his best outing of the season at the St James’ Palace Stakes to finish second, one length behind Barney Roy. It was a fine performance from the American horse but whether he has enough in him to go one further and win the Sussex Stakes is another matter.

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