The Sussex Stakes (Wednesday 31 July, 3.35pm) is the Group 1 highlight of the second day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. It is billed as the mid-summer clash of the best milers of the classic generation and the older horses and it was established in 1841. Many of the best milers ever seen in England have won the Sussex Stakes, with winners this century including Frankel (twice), Canford Cliffs, and Kingman.
Check out our 10-year-trends, runner-by-runner guide, and free tip for the Sussex Stakes 2019.
Sussex Stakes 10-Year-Trends
Favourites have a great record in the Sussex Stakes with seven of the last 10 market leaders winning. The 2013 winner Toronado was only the 11/4 second favourite, but the last two winners have been returned at 20/1 and 9/1.
Those last two winners were also 7-year-olds, which went against the previous eight editions which were won by six 3-year-olds, one 4-year-old, and one 5-year-old. Seven of the last 10 winners were drawn in either stalls 3, 4, or 5, with the others drawn 1, 2, and 7, suggesting that a low draw is normally an advantage.
Five winners had won their previous race, whilst the other five had finished either second or third. All winners had raced between 25 and 43 days before winning the Sussex Stakes. Aidan O’Brien has trained two of the last 10 winners.
Sussex Stakes Runner-By-Runner Guide 2019
5-year-old who won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes in 2017 but stayed in the stalls when trying to win that race back-to-back in June. He did relent to race next time at Ascot, but he still came out of the stalls slower than ideal before running in to be fourth in a weaker race than this. First-time cheekpieces may sharpen him up but it will still be disappointing if he can concede weight to some higher-rated 3-year-olds.
6-year-old who enjoyed his finest moment when winning the 2018 Queen Anne Stakes. The form was boosted when the second won next time out, whilst the sixth has won a Group 1 since. He was also a decent third in the 2018 Sussex Stakes after not getting the clearest of runs but he’s another that has taken advantage of a period when there is no star miler amongst the older horses.
6-year-old who looks as though his perfect trip is 9-furlongs judged on his first two efforts of the season, and he looks to lack the pace against top-class milers and lack the required stamina to stay 10-furlongs in decent races. Tough ask.
I Can Fly
Aidan O’Brien’s 4-year-old filly tends to reserve her best for Ascot and soft ground so, though she’s yet run at Goodwood, there must be a chance she won’t be at her best on this quirky track. Even if she is, she still probably won’t be good enough.
The first of this year’s 3-year-olds is officially only the third highest-rated horse despite having beaten the higher-rated pair of Too Darn Hot and Phoenix Of Spain at Royal Ascot. However, everything probably went right for him that day as he was drawn in stall one and got a much better early position that his main opponents. He’s drawn outside those two re-opposing rivals here and it will be interesting to see if Ryan Moore can get him where he wants him early in a race that appears to lack a trailblazer.
Andrew Balding’s son of Dark Angel has already won a handicap and a Listed race this year and he probably wasn’t ideally suited by dropping back in trip at Ascot last time. This test should suit him more, but it will be a surprise if he can bridge the gap to Group 1 level at this stage of his career.
Phoenix Of Spain
This strapping son of Lope De Vega wasn’t far behind the best 2-year-olds and he always promised to be a better 3-year-old. It looked like a colt out of the top drawer when winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas by 3-lengths with a front-running performance on his seasonal debut, but he was noticeably weak in the market at Royal Ascot when asked to race behind the leaders. A return to front-running tactics could see him return to the winners’ enclosure.
Too Darn Hot
Last year’s champion 2-year-old wasn’t at his best on his first three starts this year and it remains to be seen whether a confidence booster in a weaker race than this last time can improve him enough to win John Gosden a second Sussex Stakes.
Sussex Stakes Verdict 2019
A good 3-year-old normally beats an above average 4-year-old in the Sussex Stakes and the breeders will be gutted if at least one of the 3-year-olds can’t beat an older bunch of milers that have lacked a star for the past couple of seasons. Admittedly, Accidental Agent, Zabeel Prince, and Lord Glitters are all Group 1 winners, whilst I Can Fly was beaten a head in a Group 1 by Roaring Lion, but surely this year’s crop of 3-year-olds are better.
Happy Power is the least likely of the 3-year-olds to win but it’s hard to split Too Darn Hot, Phoenix Of Spain, and Circus Maximus at their best. Circus Maximus beat them both at Royal Ascot but, whilst Too Darn Hot was beaten a length that day, connections were sure that Phoenix Of Spain didn’t run anywhere near his best form beaten 3¾ lengths back in sixth.
Phoenix Of Spain’s win in the Irish 2,000 Guineas suggests that, as there was a nearly a 6-lengths turn around with Too Darn Hot at Ascot. His connections have also been bullish that he will return to his best form here and, as he has the draw to get the better of Circus Maximus in the early exchanges, Jamie Spencer will hopefully allow him to use his big stride to great effect.