Sussex Stakes Preview: Kameko can show his class

Kameko was an impressive winner of last month's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Kameko was an impressive winner of last month's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Nick Seddon previews Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, which Is shaping up into a vintage renewal of the Group 1 event…

We’ve grown used to seeing some stellar match-ups in the Sussex Stakes in recent years, and the phrase ‘Duel on the Downs’ was first coined when the great Frankel locked horns with Canford Cliffs back in 2011. 

There have been several memorable clashes in this Group 1 contest since then, though this year’s renewal feels slightly unique for its competitive nature, and as many as five colts in this seven-strong field will arrive with serious claims of taking this. 

Three-year-olds have a good record in the Sussex Stakes, coming out on top on six occasions since 2010, and two classic winners will take their chance in this year’s renewal, beginning with the current favourite at the time of writing, the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Siskin

He arrives here unbeaten in five starts for the Ger Lyons team, having impressed when winning on return at the Curragh last month - doing well to win after meeting plenty of traffic problems a furlong out. There’s certainly a case to be made that we haven’t seen the best of him just yet, but he will likely need to improve to take what is his toughest task to date, and although the fact that Colin Keane is travelling over to partner him is a bonus, he feels too short as a 9/4 favourite and is passed over at the prices. 

The other classic winner in the field is Kameko, who was triumphant in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. That was a second top level success for Andrew Balding’s charge after winning the previous season’s Futurity Trophy at Newcastle, and the form of his Guineas success looked above average for the grade, bearing in mind that he had two high-class colts in Wichita and Pinatubo in behind him. 

Kameko has since finished fourth in the Epsom Derby, perhaps failing to quite get home over a mile and a half, and the drop back to a mile will undoubtedly suit here. He could well prove to be at his best over a mile and a quarter in time - and he will likely get a chance to prove that in next month’s International Stakes - but there seems to be a genuine desire from his owner Sheikh Fahad to find out which of the two Guineas winners is the best. Kameko's presence certainly adds some excellent extra spice to proceedings, and bearing in mind that he boasts some of the strongest form in the book based on what he’s shown so far, he can prove to be too tough a nut to crack in receipt of 8 lb from his older rivals. 

Wichita was just a neck behind Kameko at Newmarket, and while he has since suffered a reverse of the Guineas placings with Pinatubo in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing third, he is another three-year-old to note here. Indeed, there isn't an obvious pace angle here - though stablemate Circus Maximus has led in the past - and it would be no surprise to see Wichita handed a similarly forceful ride to the one he was handed at Ascot last time. Goodwood provides a particularly quick mile, and although his draw in stall seven isn't an ideal one, Wichita wouldn't have to find too much on the bare figures to challenge Kameko, and he rates as an interesting alternative.

The four-year-old challenge is headlined by Circus Maximus, who collected the third Group 1 success of his career in last month's Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting. He's about as consistent a performer as you'll find for this level, rarely running a bad race, and there is certainly a case to be made that we haven't seen the best of him just yet considering that he only seems to do what's required in his races. However, he feels vulnerable on these terms up against younger rivals, and will also have to back up the form of last month's Queen Anne success with Mohaather

Indeed, Mohaather was very well-backed in the run-up to the Queen Anne after an injury-hit three-year-old campaign, and although he ultimately finished seventh that day, it was hard not to have the eye drawn to how well he was travelling before having the door abruptly closed shut on him in the closing stages. His two runs last season - when winning the Greenham Stakes at Newbury and when fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot - suggested that he will be more than at home at the top level, and he backed up those claims when winning the Group 2 Summer Mile in emphatic style at Ascot last time out. Conceding weight to the three-year-olds here will ask more of him, but it's conceivable that there could be more to come from Mohaather yet after just seven starts, and he's more interesting than Circus Maximus on this occasion. 

The field is completed by Vatican City and San Donato. The latter was three and three quarter lengths behind Mohaather at Ascot last time out, meaning it's difficult to make a case for him overturning that form here, and far more interesting is Vatican City. He has a profile that's typical of an Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old, in that he's impeccably bred as a son of Galileo and a full-brother to Gleneagles, and he's lightly-raced after just four starts to date. Like the majority of those who took their chance, he never got into proceedings in the Epsom Derby at the beginning of the month, though he stayed on well to take second behind Siskin in the Irish Guineas prior to that, and while he'll certainly need more for win purposes, he rates as  a lively outsider. However, it's difficult to see past Kameko, who can make the most of his weight allowance and prove himself to be the best of his generation.


Sussex Stakes, Glorious Goodwood, Wednesday 29th July - back Kameko at 9/2


Sussex Stakes
Kameko silk


Glorious Goodwood 2020

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