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The Qatar Sussex Stakes

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Lightning Spear wins the Qatar Sussex Stakes
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History

The Qatar Sussex Stakes began life in 1841 as a sprint and got nowhere. Failing to capture the public attention, it was uncontested on 25 occasions, including 14 walkovers. Today, having been transformed into a one mile race with Group 1 status – the first race of the season in which the three-year-old and older milers clash at the highest level – it is regarded as Goodwood’s most prestigious race. It rightly earns its place in the QIPCO British Champions Series.

That point is underlined by some of its cast-list. In 2010 it was won by Canford Cliffs, whose trainer said afterwards that Canford Cliffs was the best horse he had ever trained. Even more superlatives were handed out after the 2011 renewal as Frankel inflicted a devastating five-length victory over the defending champion. Just for good measure, the brilliant miler returned to Goodwood in 2012 and became the first horse to win two renewals of the race. Other celebrated winners include Brigadier Gerard, Kris, Giant’s Causeway and Rock Of Gibraltar.

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori, 4 wins (1991, 1999, 2001, 2007)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 3 wins (2000, 2002, 2008-9)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

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Lightning Spear finally strikes Group 1 target in Sussex

Good things come to those who wait. The connections of Lightning Spear were finally able to celebrate a Group 1 triumph with the seven-year-old as he gained an impressive success in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.

The David Simcock-trained seven-year-old had previously been placed in six Group 1 races without managing to get his head in front – all of them QIPCO British Champions Series races – but the near-misses were forgotten as he swept to a length and a half win under regular rider Oisin Murphy.

In a steadily-run renewal, Jersey Stakes winner Expert Eye chased him home, with Queene Anne runner-up Lord Glitters another half-length further back in third. Without Parole, the 7-4 favourite, beat only one home after being a reluctant leader.

Overall, Lightning Spear had run in Group 1 company 15 times without success, with notable efforts including a short-head second to Rhododendron in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May.

There were tears of joy and pain for Simcock in the winner’s enclosure after the race. His father died just two days before.

“Sheikh Fahad loves this horse and he will be absolutely delighted. Unfortunately, he can’t be here today, but he’ll be made up,” Simcock said.

“Lightning Spear has done very little wrong apart from win a Group 1 up until now. He is a lovely horse to train and a lot of work goes into him.

“I am more pleased for the horse than anybody.  He has probably had his knockers, slightly unfairly I feel. I do as I’m told with this horse as Jennie [Simcock’s wife] rides him every day and she does a wonderful job with him. I don’t think Lightning Spear would be here today without her.

“He was quite headstrong and fiery when we got him and now he is just the nicest person and very straightforward to ride.”

David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to Sheikh Fahad, said: “From some time ago we felt this was his race, and the way he has been running this year we knew he had a fine chance. The way the race was run suited him.”

He confirmed that Lightning Spear would join the Qatar Bloodstock roster of stallions at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire, adding: “He’s one of the best-looking horses in racing, he’s won a stallion-making race and he’s by Pivotal.”

Jenny Simcock, fighting back tears of joy, said: “That means everything. I’m spoilt and ride him every day, and he’s a gentleman, a very expressive horse. My children go into his box and feed him Polos and carrots.”

Murphy said: “The pace was slow, but he relaxed, and I got a little bit of cover off James Doyle [on runner-up Expert Eye].

“I never ever get nervous before Group 1s – before the Derby and that I like making fun of the other jockeys – but I was nervous today and down at the start I was trying to hide it. I am over the moon – what a horse! And what a training performance.”

Results

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The Course

You may not have visited this racecourse, just north of Chichester in West Sussex, but you’ll surely have heard of ‘Glorious Goodwood’, the venue’s five-day summer festival.

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The festival forms a central part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, featuring three contrasting races at the end of July – the Qatar Sussex Stakes for Europe’s top milers, the Qatar Goodwood Cup for long-distance ‘stayers’ and the Qatar Nassau Stakes for a select field of fillies.

Horseracing began at Goodwood in 1802, courtesy of the third Duke of Richmond. Not that he was a huge fan. His main aim was to keep the officers of the Sussex Militia entertained.

Today’s course has a complex layout, with a six-furlong straight feeding into a tight right-handed loop catering for longer-distance races. The venue is overlooked by Trundle Iron Age hill fort, acting as an informal grandstand and offering fine views across the whole course.

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Getting there

Goodwood,
Chichester
PO18 0PS

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