DESPITE the fact there are only seven runners in Wednesday’s Qatar Sussex Stakes (3.15pm), it is without doubt the race of the week.
The three-year-old Classic generation are represented by the winners of both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, whilst the Queen Anne Stakes winner flies the flag for the older generation.
Looking at the younger crop first and the obvious starting point is the unbeaten Irish challenger Siskin.
He was a perfect four from four over six furlongs as a juvenile and stepped up to a mile for the first time in last month’s Irish 2000 Guineas.
Plenty, myself included, had serious reservations about whether or not he would stay the trip but he won a messy contest pretty easily in the end.
He avoided all the trouble in behind and sailed down the outside for a pretty comfortable success.
Trainer Ger Lyons resisted the temptation to bring him over for Royal Ascot with this Group One prize being mapped out as the target some time ago.
There is no doubt he remains the one to beat, he is just a little short in the market at around 2/1 for what is his toughest test yet.
Kameko was a hugely impressive winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and connections felt obliged to roll the dice and have a crack at the Investec Derby earlier this month.
Sadly, that gamble didn’t pay off and he simply didn’t stay the extra half mile.
He is now on somewhat of a recovery mission and runs here instead of the Juddmonte International over 10 furlongs at York next month.
If lining up in the same form as he was at Newmarket, he will be a threat to all.
However, he may just have had a harder race than it looked at Epsom and a watching brief is advised.
Despite the fact his team doesn’t appear to be in its usual red-hot form, it is always dangerous to dismiss Aidan O’Brien.
He saddles three of the four runners including two three-year-olds.
Wichita finished second behind Kameko at Newmarket and then went on to finish third behind Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot.
It would be a surprise if he was good enough to win a race of this nature.
In fact, I would be more interested in the chances of Vatican City who definitely wasn’t seen at his best in the Investec Derby at Epsom last time.
He didn’t actually run as bad as his finishing position implies as he was ill at ease on the track and will be better suited by a strongly run mile.
It’s just a shame that there are only the seven runners as he may have been a decent each-way proposition with a third place at around 12/1.
Looking at the older horses and the last of the O’Brien trio is Circus Maximus who was runner-up in this contest 12 months ago.
He is somewhat of the forgotten horse in this race as he showed all his brilliant battling qualities to repel all challengers in last month’s Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting.
The fact that he is not flashy is the likely reason he seems to pass under the radar.
More often than not he looks in trouble in his races, but just keeps finding for pressure and armed with his customary pair of blinkers will take plenty of passing at the home straight.
He was around 6/1 for this contest when the betting opened call and has been weak in the market ever since.
The more he drifts, the more attractive a betting proposition he becomes and I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off taking the 9/1 available.
Yet, I’m going to nail my colours to the mast of another older horse in the shape of MOHAATHER at 11/4.
Marcus Tregoning’s lightly raced contender appeared to be one of the major hard luck stories at Royal Ascot.
He was trapped in behind a wall of horses when the pace quickened in the Queen Anne Stakes and Jim Crowley was only able to sit and watch.
The gap only opened when the race was over and he ran on to finish seventh, never in the hunt.
He made no mistake when returning to Ascot in the Summer Mile last time and showed a turn of foot that would have surely seen him go extremely close in the Queen Anne.
It is always a tough task for the older horses to give away eight pounds to the three-year-olds in this contest, but Mohaather is such an exciting prospect that I’m prepared to give it a go.
Mohaather 3.15pm Goodwood