Sussex Stakes Contenders: Circus Maximus Profile

Circus Maximus (right) sealed a third Group 1 success in last month's Queen Anne Stakes.
Circus Maximus (right) sealed a third Group 1 success in last month's Queen Anne Stakes.

Nick Seddon profiles the Queen Anne Stakes winner Circus Maximus, who is a leading fancy for this week's Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood...

Circus Maximus

  • Age: 4
  • Races: 12
  • Wins: 5
  • Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
  • Jockey: Ryan Moore
  • Owner: Flaxman Stables/Mrs Magnier/Tabor/Smith
  • Notable Race Wins: St James's Palace Stakes (2019), Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (2019), Queen Anne Stakes (2020)

Career Record

Circus Maximus represents the powerhouse that is the Aidan O'Brien operation, and he made a strong impression as a juvenile, winning a maiden over a mile at Gowran Park on his second start, before hitting the frame in both the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, and the Group 1 Futurity Trophy at Doncaster. 

He quickly made up into a contender for the Epsom Derby after winning the listed Dee Stakes at Chester the following May, though he could only finish sixth behind Anthony Van Dyck. He was dropped back to a mile for his next start in the St James's Palace Stakes, and it was at this trip where he proved to be at his best, defeating King Of Comedy to win his first Group 1 success. A narrow defeat to Too Darn Hot followed in the Sussex Stakes, though he quickly bounced back to form, picking up a second top level success in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp that autumn. 

It's difficult to gauge just how good Circus Maximus is as he only ever does just enough to win his races, but he is clearly a high-class colt, and showed that when producing a game performance to hold off Terebellum and win last month's Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. He brings proven Group 1-winning form to the table, and will no doubt put up a bold bid to seal a fourth top level success. 

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Proven form: Circus Maximus is a proven performer at this level, and arrives here as a three-time winner of Group 1 contests over a mile. His profile is as solid as you'll find in this sphere, and he will likely put up a bold bid to take this.

Proven over course and distance: Circus Maximus was half a length behind Too Darn Hot in last year's renewal of the Sussex Stakes, which looked up to scratch in terms of form, and he will have an edge on each of Kameko, Siskin and Mohaather in that respect - all of whom are running at Goodwood for the first time.

Consistent: Aidan O'Brien's charge rarely runs a bad race, and has performed with credit in four different countries during his career. He's at his optimum trip, and is quite versatile in terms of in-running tactics.


Unfavourable terms: Like Mohaather, Circus Maximus will have to concede weight to his younger rivals here. Six three-year-olds have won this race since 2010, and the older horses face a tough task to concede weight to the likes of Kameko and Siskin - both of whom are classic winners.

More exposed: While Circus Maximus boasts as solid a profile as you'll find for a Group 1 contest, he's likely hit his peak now as a four-year-old, meaning he could be vulnerable up against the likes of Kameko and Siskin - who could both be open to more improvement yet now facing older rivals for the first time.

Must confirm form: While Circus Maximus was a game winner at Royal Ascot, it was hard not to have the eye drawn to the luckless Mohaather, who was travelling noticeably well but never really got into things due to traffic problems. That rival has since bolted up in the Group 2 Summer Mile, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the rematch.

How will Circus Maximus fare in the 2020 Sussex Stakes?

It's very difficult to knock Circus Maximus, and he arrives here as very much the standard-setter having won last month's Queen Anne Stakes. He rarely runs a bad race and will be right on the premises once again, but there's a lingering feeling that he's vulnerable conceding weight to both Siskin and Kameko - who could both yet improve past him. The added spice of the re-opposing Mohaather, who was luckless at Ascot last month, means that Circus Maximus still has question marks over him here, and he could well find one of his main rivals too strong in the finish.

Verdict: Vulnerable for win purposes


Sussex Stakes
Circus Maximus silk

Circus Maximus

Glorious Goodwood 2020

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