Duels on the Downs: Five iconic Glorious Goodwood match-ups

Stradivarius has won each of the last three renewals of the Goodwood Cup.
Stradivarius has won each of the last three renewals of the Goodwood Cup.

With this year's renewal of the Sussex Stakes looking red hot, Nick Seddon has taken a trip down memory lane to pick out five iconic clashes at Glorious Goodwood this century...

Due to its position in the calendar, Glorious Goodwood has a real habit of throwing up some stellar match-ups, and this year's renewal of the Sussex Stakes looks particularly hot, with Kameko now seemingly confirmed by his connections to be taking his chance at the end of the month. 

The 2000 Guineas winner could face a host of intriguing rivals, which includes the Guineas runner-up Wichita, the Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus, recent Group 2 scorer Mohaather and the Irish 2000 Guineas hero Siskin - who would arrive here unbeaten after five starts. 

This wouldn't be the first stellar renewal of the Sussex Stakes we've seen this century, either, and should the above five names turn up, it would almost certainly be deserving of the title 'Duel on the Downs' - which is regularly banded around during Glorious Goodwood.

Indeed, some big names have clashed here over the years, and we've picked out five of the most memorable bouts... 

Frankel v Canford Cliffs - 2011 Sussex Stakes

The original 'Duel on the Downs', which saw the unbeaten three-year-old Frankel pitched against older rivals for the first time. The most serious of his three foes was the four-year-old Canford Cliffs, a bona fide top-class performer over a mile, who had won five straight Group 1 prizes coming into this clash - including the previous month's Queen Anne Stakes.

It was widely viewed as the biggest test of Frankel's career to that point, though it was one he passed with flying colours; slowly towing things along from the front before showing his trademark explosion of acceleration at the furlong pole, which very quickly put the contest to bed. Canford Cliffs was retired in the aftermath with a leg injury, perhaps taking some gloss off of the victory, but even so, this will go down as one of the greatest ever clashes at Glorious Goodwood.

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Dawn Approach v Toronado - 2013 Sussex Stakes

Even the most die hard of Frankel supporters will surely admit that the 2012 renewal of the Sussex Stakes was nothing more than a procession, meaning that the next big match-up in this particular Group 1 contest came a year later - and featured two three-year-olds, Dawn Approach and Toronado. The pair had already clashed on two occasions that season coming into this, and Dawn Approach had won both times; romping clear in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, before bouncing back from a bizarre run in the Epsom Derby to win the St James's Palace Stakes. 

However, Toronado had got within a short head of Dawn Approach at Royal Ascot, and there was a genuine belief that the fast-natured make up of Goodwood would suit his hold-up tactics down to the ground in the Sussex Stakes. As expected, Dawn Approach hit the front at the quarter mile pole of a frenetically-run affair, though he was promptly reeled in by the strong-travelling Toronado, who grabbed the lead within the shadows of the post to prevail in the rematch. 

Kingman v Toronado - 2014 Sussex Stakes

Toronado was again involved in another epic duel at Goodwood 12 months later, though this time he served as a litmus test for an exciting three-year-old, the John Gosden-trained Kingman. He had suffered a shock defeat to Night Of Thunder in the 2000 Guineas that May, but that was the only blot on his copy, and he arrived here having quickly bounced back with imperious victories in both the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, and the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

He faced a serious rival in Toronado, however, who had run just twice since his epic win in this race 12 months previous; disappointing over a mile and a quarter in the International Stakes at York, before returning with a fine victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot that June. The fact that Kingman was sent off as a 5/2-on favourite showed just how highly regarded the three-year-old was, and in a highly tactical affair, he showed an impressive turn of speed to change gear inside the final furlong, and zip past both Toronado and the outsider Darwin in the dying strides. 

Big Orange v Stradivarius - 2017 Goodwood Cup

It seems strange to think of Stradivarius as anything other than a dominant figure in the staying division, particularly after his devastating victory in last month's Ascot Gold Cup, though he arrived at the 2017 renewal of the Goodwood Cup as an improving three-year-old, and very much the new kid on the block. Stradivarius had shown his credentials over staying trips by gamely winning the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot that June, and he arrived at Goodwood looking to build on that - with an engagement in the following month's St Leger at Doncaster firmly on his radar. 

However, the established name in the division at this time was Michael Bell's Big Orange, who'd won this race the previous year on route to running with plenty of credit in the Melbourne Cup. He'd since prevailed over Order Of St George in a thrilling renewal of the Ascot Gold Cup that June, and looked to be the one they all had to beat as he attempted to defend his crown. Big Orange was a 6/4 favourite to do so, and as expected, the big two in the market promptly drew clear inside the final furlong. The reigning champion showed plenty of his trademark heart and spirit, but he was powerless to stop Stradivarius, who powered clear late on in a style which we would quickly become accustomed to. 

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Ouija Board v Alexander Goldrun - 2006 Nassau Stakes

Thought of by many as the original 'Duel on the Downs', the 2006 renewal of the Nassau Stakes served up a mouth-watering clash between two top-class mares, the Ed Dunlop-trained Ouija Board and the Jim Bolger-trained Alexander Goldrun. This was thought of as the perfect match-up, as it pitched a British-trained superstar against one from Ireland, and both had star-studded, globe-trotting profiles to boot. Curiously, they had met just once coming into this, both disappointing in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba that March, but arrived here on the back of Group 1 wins that campaign; with Alexander Goldrun winning the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, and Ouija Board striking in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

Alexander Goldrun was the defending champion having won this 12 months ago, and her willingness to get into a scrap stood her in good stead here. As expected, the pair drew four to five lengths clear of the remainder of the field in the closing stages, and settled down to do battle; with Ouija Board showing all of her resolution to gamely battle home on the far-side rail and prevail by the narrowest of margins. 

Glorious Goodwood 2020
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