Since a creditable fifth in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas earlier this season, Alcohol Free has gone from strength to strength and the filly’s form reached new heights when winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Connections, including Trainer Andrew Balding were confident heading into the one mile showpiece – that confidence was not misplaced.
Regular rider Oisin Murphy jumped well, along with the majority of the field and found some early cover. Century Dream set the fractions, and began to serve it up to his younger rivals turning for home.
For a few strides there didn’t look to be much response from Murphy’s mount, however a shake of the reigns and the picture began to change.
Market leader, Poetic Flare was the first to get to Centruy Dream but the presence of Alcohol Free was looming large with a wide run to circumnavigate the field. Hitting the furlong marker, the two had but over a length between them and the rest of the field and it was time to knuckle down.
In truth it was a short duel, unlike some others the Downs has seen over the years. But the half-furlong marker Alcohol Free was on top and the margin would continue to grow all the way to the line. Oisin Murphy punched the air jubilantly, with Alcohol Free giving him his second win in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Poetic Flare gamely stayed on for second and continued his fine form this season. Snow Lantern came home third, with her appearing to meet a lot of traffic as her two rivals made their moves at the two furlong marker. Redemption for Murphy after he suffered the same issues in 2020 aboard Kameko.
Murphy said in his post-race interview “She is so, so talented. What a thrill I got from that!”
“She wasn’t at her best in Newamarket for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, she was a little ill, but other than that she has been foot-perfect”
Owner Geoff Smith was winning his second Qatar Sussex Stakes as well, 37 years after his first with Chief Singer. He said “This filly is something else, the way she has won that is just simply incredible”.
The next mile Group 1 race as part of QIPCO British Champions series will be the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in October, but early indication is that we might see Alchol Free earlier than that with a step up in trip for the Juddmonte International not ruled out.