Goodwood ready to crown new King in Sussex Stakes

Bill Esdaile
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THERE have been some fantastic Duels on the Downs in the past few years, not least when Frankel demolished Canford Cliffs in 2011, and we are set for another classic today when KINGMAN takes on Toronado in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes (3.05pm).

Kingman is short at 2/5 with Unibet, but we saw when Taghrooda won last weekend’s King George that it is very difficult for older horses to concede so much weight against talented members of the Classic generation. After all, five of the last six winners of this race have been three-year-olds.

Toronado is very talented, as he showed when winning the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last month, but conceding 8lb to a rival with as much class as Kingman looks to be a bridge too far.

The worry for Kingman followers is quick ground and the undulating track, although I expect him to cope with both and improve his position at the top of the Mile category in the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Today’s opener is the Goodwood Stakes (1.55pm) over 2m 5f and Mark Johnston’s three-year-old filly Maid In Rio is the hot favourite after last week’s romp at Ascot. She was hugely impressive that day, but has never raced this far and I’d rather look for an each-way bet against her.

That comes in the shape of David Simcock’s RAY WARD, who was really well backed when he met all sorts of trouble in the Ascot Stakes last time. He lost all chance but stayed on in eye-catching fashion and runs off the same mark today.

Take the 6/1 available with Unibet, but remember that the firm will price boost every horse in the show for this race, as well as all of Richard Hughes’s and Ryan Moore’s rides this week.

You can give chances to nearly the whole field in the Neptune Management Gordon Stakes (2.30pm). Snow Sky was fancied to go well in the Investec Derby before missing the race with a setback, but Sir Michael Stoute’s colt then looked a bit one-paced at Royal Ascot behind subsequent King George fourth Eagle Top.

On that form, he’s probably still right to be favourite, but he looks vulnerable. Observational broke his maiden in a Listed race here in May and Gosden, who runs CLOUDSCAPE, will have a good line through that form as he saddled the runner-up that day, Marzocco.

Cloudscape was painfully unlucky behind the progressive Cannock Chase at the royal meeting. He loves fast ground and the one blot on his copy book is a poor run at Newmarket when he swallowed his tongue.

Gosden has fitted a tongue tie and the son of Galileo should relish the step up to 12 furlongs. He can be backed at 5/1 with Unibet who are paying a quarter odds the first three.

Aidan O’Brien’s juveniles have been hit and miss this year, but HIGHLAND REEL looks the real deal in the Group Two Vintage Stakes (3.40pm).

A 12-length winner of a Gowran maiden on his last start, he’s already prominent in the betting for next year’s 2000 Guineas and this doesn’t look the strongest race. The next three in the market have won only three races between them from seven runs. Take the evens with Unibet.

The handicap at 4.50pm is a tricky affair. I was drawn to another Gosden horse Water Hole, but stall 15 will make life tough for the hat-trick seeker.

Instead, I’m going to chance PRINCIPAL EQUATION for Ralph Beckett. The filly was runner-up to promising colts on her first two starts before easily landing the odds at Windsor. Silvestre de Sousa is booked for the first time and, against her own sex, she should go well.

RAY WARD e/w 1.55pm Goodwood
CLOUDSCAPE 2.30pm Goodwood
KINGMAN 3.05pm Goodwood
HIGHLAND REEL 3.40pm Goodwood
PRINCIPAL EQUATION e/w 4.50pm Goodwood