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Published 31 May 2012

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Glorious Goodwood's highlight is the target for Strong Suit

Last year’s winner, the outstanding Frankel, heads 37 entries for the £300,000 Group One QIPCO Sussex Stakes, which is staged on the second day of Glorious Goodwood, Wednesday, August 1.

Run over a mile, the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is the fifth race in the mile division of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Frankel is owned by Khalid Abdulla, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and has been ridden by Tom Queally on all his starts. The four-year-old Galileo colt is unbeaten in 10 races, six at Group One level, and is the best racehorse in the world with a rating of 136 in the latest World Thoroughbred Rankings.

He returned to action in the mile Group One JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 19, when he easily brushed aside his old rival Excelebration to score impressively by five lengths.

Duel on the Downs

Among Frankel’s Group One victories in 2011 was his devastating five-length victory over five-time Group One scorer and top older miler Canford Cliffs in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, a contest termed the “Duel on the Downs”.

Canford Cliffs, who won the Sussex Stakes in 2010, has now retired to stud but his trainer Richard Hannon, who also won the race in 2003 with Reel Buddy and has collected the Dick Hern Trophy for the leading trainer at Goodwood in each of the past four years, has four entries - Dubawi Gold, Harbour Watch, Strong Suit and Trumpet Major.

Strong Suit was on the scoresheet at Glorious Goodwood in 2011 with a comfortable success over Red Jazz in the Group Two bet365 Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs, while Harbour Watch landed the Group Two Audi Richmond Stakes over six furlongs at the same meeting and is unbeaten in three starts.

David Redvers, racing manager to Qatar Racing Limited, the owners of Strong Suit and part-owners of Harbour Watch, said today: “Strong Suit is definitely being aimed at the QIPCO Sussex Stakes - it’s his big target if everything goes right for him.

“We know he enjoys the track at Goodwood and we think the race will be perfect for him.

“The plan at the moment is for him to make his reappearance at Royal Ascot next month in the Queen Anne Stakes, which should hopefully bring him on nicely for the QIPCO Sussex Stakes.

“We will also definitely look at the race for Harbour Watch. He may run also run at Royal Ascot if he is ready in time or alternatively could head straight to Goodwood.

“If he were to go to Goodwood first time out, then we might consider the bet365 Lennox Stakes for him instead.

“So at this stage, we could run one or the other of them in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, or possibly both of them.”

Adam Waterworth, managing director of Goodwood Racecourse, commented: “We would be delighted to welcome Frankel back to Goodwood for the QIPCO Sussex Stakes which he won so impressively last year.

“This year’s entry is two higher than in 2011 and it is refreshing that so many trainers and owners are willing take on Frankel.

“The strong representation of three-year-olds is very pleasing and the QIPCO Sussex Stakes is the first opportunity for milers of that age to meet the established stars at Group One level.”

Champion Irish handler Aidan O’Brien made no less than 14 of the 37 entries including the winners of both Newmarket mile Classics, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, Camelot and Homecoming Queen, as well as Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Power.

The trainer is also responsible for four-year-old Excelebration, who joined Ballydoyle for the 2012 season having previously been trained by Marco Botti. Excelebration has finished second to Frankel on three occasions. Multiple Group One winner So You Think is another possible starter for O’Brien, who has won the QIPCO Sussex Stakes four times - Rip Van Winkle (2009), Henrythenavigator (2008), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) and Giant’s Causeway (2000).

There are 16 Irish-trained entries in total, with Jim Bolger having entered last season’s Group One Dewhurst Stakes victor Parish Hall, who missed the Irish 2,000 Guineas because of a minor setback. John Oxx could be represented by Born To Sea, who is a sibling to the outstanding Sea The Stars and ran a good race when fifth on his latest start in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

The Contenders

Other leading contenders from the three-year-old generation include Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Foxtrot Romeo and the Roger Charlton-trained Top Offer, who looked a horse of huge potential when scoring at Newbury last season but ran a disappointing race on his reappearance behind Camelot in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

Marco Botti has two to choose from, headed by Crackerjack King, who recently joined the Newmarket-based handler after being trained in Italy by the trainer’s cousin Stefano. Crackerjack King was a high-class performer in Italy, winning the Italian Derby in 2011, while he returned to action with an impressive victory in the Group One Premio Presidente Della Repubblica at Rome’s Capannelle racecourse on May 13. Botti’s other possible starter is Planteur, who ran a good race when third in the Group One Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp on Sunday (May 27).

Other contenders include Chachamaidee, also trained by Sir Henry Cecil, who was successful in the Group Three Oak Tree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last season. There are three entries from Godolphin including the Australian import Helmet, who won the Group One Caulfield Guineas in October, 2011, and is now in the care of Mahmood Al Zarooni.

Glorious Goodwood is staged at the world’s most beautiful racecourse over five days, from Tuesday, July 31 through to Saturday, August 4, 2012 inclusive.

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