Churchill and Ribchester among entries for Sussex Stakes

Europe’s top milers Churchill and Ribchester star among 40 entries for the £1-million Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday, August 2nd.

The G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes is the richest race and highlight of the five-day Qatar Goodwood Festival, which in 2017 runs from Tuesday, August 1, through to Saturday, August 5.

Churchill looks the pick of the Classic generation over a mile following victories in the G1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and Irish equivalent at the Curragh, while four-year-old Ribchester made short work of his rivals in the G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 20.

Both colts are now on course for Royal Ascot in June, with the Qatar Sussex Stakes the big mile target after that.

Churchill’s trainer Aidan O’Brien accounts for 15 entries as he chases a sixth Qatar Sussex Stakes success for Coolmore partnerships. He is also responsible for exciting filly Winter, who completed the 1,000 Guineas double emphatically at the Curragh last weekend, alongside Cliffs Of Moher and Rhododendron, both strong fancies for 12-furlong Classics at Epsom Downs this weekend.

O’Brien’s successes in the Qatar Sussex Stakes have come through The Gurkha (2016), Rip Van Winkle (2009), Henrythenavigator (2008), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) and Giant’s Causeway (2000).

Ribchester (Richard Fahey) heads a 12-strong team for Godolphin, which also includes QIPCO 2,000 Guineas runner-up Barney Roy (Richard Hannon), Irish 2,000 Guineas second Thunder Snow and Dream Castle (both Saeed bin Suroor).  Three Godolphin horses, Ramonti (2007), Noverre (2001) and Aljabr (1999), all trained by Saeed bin Suroor, have triumphed in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.

Le Brivido (Andre Fabre) is one of two French-trained entries for the Qatar Sussex Stakes this year. The three-year-old son of Siyouni just lost his unbeaten record in a thrilling French 2,000 Guineas at Deauville on May 14, going down by a short-head to Brametot.

Brametot’s trainer Jean-Claude Rouget relies on another Al Shaqab Racing-owned colt in Zelzal, a decisive winner of the G1 Prix Jean Prat over a mile at Chantilly in July last year and successful in three other races as a three-year-old.

Zelzal, by Sea The Stars, has not raced since finishing third to Vadamos in the G1 Prix du Moulin, also over a mile at Chantilly, in September.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for Al Shaqab Racing, reported: “Zelzal is in good form.

“He was affected by the virus [at Jean-Claude’s] and was actually one of the first to get it. Thankfully, it did not affect him anything like as badly as some of the other horses.

“He is back in the swing of things now and the plan is for him to return to action next month.

“We have got high hopes for him. He is much stronger and has really matured.

“Zelzal showed last year that he is very talented on his day. I still don’t think we saw the best of him last season, especially at the backend, and he could be anything this year.”

Al Shaqab Racing’s star miler Galileo Gold, the neck second to The Gurkha in last year’s Qatar Sussex Stakes, had been due to be entered in this year’s renewal but it was announced on May 29 that he had a soft-tissue injury and was being retired.

Other eye-catching 2017 Qatar Sussex Stakes entries include Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes runner-up Lightning Spear (David Simcock), who defeated Zonderland (Clive Cox) in the G2 Doom Bar Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August, and exciting three-year-old filly Dabyah (John Gosden).

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