A Sussex to Savour on Wednesday

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Mohaather | Racing Post

With the delayed 2020 turf season now enjoying some kind of equilibrium, the pick of the season's milers line up for one of the first category-defining moments in Wednesday's G1 Qatar Sussex S. Of the older brigade, last year's G1 St James's Palace S. and G1 Prix du Moulin hero Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is an outsider if the betting is to believed at present despite returning to add the June 16 G1 Queen Anne S. to his tally. Out of luck in the Queen Anne but highly impressive in Ascot's G2 Summer Mile July 11, Shadwell's Mohaather (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) has put himself front and centre, while the 3-year-olds include the 2000 Guineas heroes Siskin (First Defence) and Kameko (Kitten's Joy) and the promising Vatican City (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). This is a far cry from some of the weaker editions of recent times and puts the Goodwood feature back on centre stage where it belongs.

With no pacemaker in the field, it is likely that one of Ballydoyle's Circus Maximus and Wichita (Ire) (No Nay Never) and possibly both will go forward from the outset. The former is used to forcing a battle, having denied Terebellum (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) in a thriller at the Royal meeting last time, and his best chance will be to try and engage some way out and draw the sting from the likes of Siskin and Mohaather. Kameko, who stayed on past Wichita to take the G1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket June 6, is another who will probably not be ridden for pace in what is a fascinating tactical conundrum.

Kameko's trainer Andrew Balding has no fears about any lasting effects of his effort when fourth in the July 4 G1 Epsom Derby and has spoken about the constitution of Qatar Racing's flagbearer on several occasions. Being that this provides an automatic entry into the GI TVG Breeders' Cup Mile, connections are keen to place a flag in that particular territory. “He won a Guineas over a mile, so it was always the intention to come back down in trip after the Derby,” he said. “I'm looking forward to it and I couldn't be happier with him. It's a very strong field, as it should be for one of the championship races of the summer.”

Oisin Murphy has the responsibility of weighing up tactics, but there are very few among his profession better-placed than him to do so. “I'm drawn in stall two next to Siskin, with Mohaather near in four as well. Circus Maximus normally goes forward and Aidan O'Brien could have the first three 'in the run' with Wichita normally forwardly-placed and Vatican City a strong stayer at the trip,” he summarised in his pre-race analysis. “This time of year is a good time to take on the older horses, given the weight allowance, and we'll see what happens.”

Mohaather proved when beating San Donato (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) by 3 3/4 lengths in the Summer Mile that he stays a mile well and has retained all the class that trainer Marcus Tregoning hoped he would despite setbacks along the way. He is awaiting the contest with relish. “It's not a biggish field and hopefully he'll run very well,” he said. “In all honesty, it was quite an easy race for him [at Ascot], as it turned out. He cantered the next day and we've been happy with him since. It's a tough order, but I don't think we could have Mohaather any better and he deserves a crack at it. I don't see why he won't handle the track, because he's a neat horse who travels well and has plenty of speed. Hopefully he's going to run a big race.”

Khalid Abdullah's Siskin answered his own doubters when taking the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh June 12 and he had 1 3/4 lengths to spare over Vatican City on that occasion. As the only unbeaten runner in the race, another first to his name will see him enter cherished company and trainer Ger Lyons can only wait and watch now. “On ratings we have to improve, it's as simple as that–we think he has, but we won't know until he runs,” he said. “He has to improve to even get close to some of these horses. He is working well at home, but he does need to improve. I think he'll cope with the track, because he's pretty straightforward. He's a very professional horse and if he gets beat it's because he's not good enough.”

Aidan O'Brien's trio are outside the first three in the market, positions not normally customary for representatives of Ballydoyle, and all are there on merit. Of Vatican City, he said, “The Irish Guineas was a funnily-run race–it just became a bit of a mess. It was a little bit of a non-event for Vatican City, who was also having his first run of the year after two very soft runs last year. He's been to Epsom since and ran respectably, even though he didn't stay. We think going back to a mile will suit him much better.”

“Circus Maximus will only ever just win–Ryan will tell you, that's the way he is,” he added. “He's a very solid miler and a very tough but lazy horse. At home he'd do the same thing, no matter what you work with him, so we don't really know what his limit is. Wichita is really maturing and he's a massive horse, so with every month that goes by he's progressing. Hopefully they'll all run well. Everyone wants to see the best horses in the race, as it means a lot more to a horse if they win it. It's exciting that they're all there and we're really looking forward to it.”

Even San Donato cannot be discounted, as he was running for the first time since finishing third in the 2019 G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains last May when chasing home Mohaather at Ascot. “It's been jolly frustrating that he's only run twice in the last 20 months, but they've been two very good runs,” trainer Roger Varian said. “The winner won well at Ascot that day, but I was delighted with my guy–I thought it was a very good run against some solid group two opposition and I do anticipate him coming forward from that run.”

Goodwood's only other black-type event is the G3 Markel Insurance Molecomb S., in which Michael O'Callaghan pitches the impressive July 22 Naas maiden scorer Steel Bull (Ire) (Clodovil {Ire}). He encounters Amo Racing Limited's June 20 G2 Queen Mary S. fourth and July 9 Listed Marygate Fillies' S.  scorer Sardinia Sunset (Ire) (Gutaifan {Ire}) and several other fast and precocious types as he travels across the Irish sea. “He came out of Naas well and it was just like a piece of work for him really–it was no more than a half-speed and he quickened up very well,” O'Callaghan commented. “We've always thought a lot of him at home, so it was no surprise to see him win the way he did. I think he could be very, very good. He's a very fast horse and he should he take a bit of beating, I hope.”

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