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Easy Sussex Stakes mile makes Gosden think Too Darn Hot can avenge Ascot defeat

Too Darn Hot: reopposes his Royal Ascot conqueror at Goodwood
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3.35 Goodwood
Qatar Sussex Stakes | 1m | 3yo+ | Group 1 | ITV/RTV

A different track could well yield a different outcome as Too Darn Hot squares off once again with his Royal Ascot conqueror Circus Maximus in a Qatar Sussex Stakes that looks to be a perfect fit for the big-race favourite.

It has already been a busy season for last season's champion juvenile, who finally followed up his Dewhurst Stakes triumph when landing a second Group 1 victory in Deauville's Prix Jean Prat.

The fact he was running in that 7f prize was far from the original plan for the one-time leading Derby fancy, who was 10lb below his subsequent French form when beaten a length into third by Circus Maximus at Ascot, where Too Darn Hot threw down a strong challenge before fading close home. 

Gosden said: "The St James's Palace was run around Ascot's old mile, which is very stiff. It's a totally different mile track to the one he'll be encountering at Goodwood. Ascot played to the strengths of Circus Maximus. It certainly didn't play to ours. Too Darn Hot has so much speed that there are always going to be stamina issues with him. 

"When you think about the big European all-aged mile races you've got the Sussex, the Jacques le Marois and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. This one should suit him well."

Gosden – who has the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita as the long-term aim for Too Darn Hot – added: "He was impressive at Deauville and we've been happy with him since then. He has won a Group 1 this year in France. Now he needs to win one in England.

"It has been publicised that we haven't been the smartest with him this year but we're hoping to have a good second half of the year. He has a good constitution and a very positive attitude, so if he handles the track he will run a big race."

Pros: Back to his best last time and Goodwood's easy, turning mile looks sure to suit

Cons: Won one of the sport's less celebrated Group 1 races at Deauville and still has to prove he can win a Group 1 over a mile

Circus chasing another late ticket triumph

A £45,000 gamble paid off for the connections of Circus Maximus at Royal Ascot. Now they hope a £70,000 punt will have a similarly happy ending.

On his first start after running sixth in the Derby, and sporting first-time blinkers under Ryan Moore, Circus Maximus showed the decision to supplement him for the St James's Palace Stakes was the right one by beating Too Darn Hot and Phoenix Of Spain into third and sixth.

To gain access to the Sussex Stakes a late admission price of £70,000 was needed. It was paid and Circus Maximus moves on to Goodwood, although with bookmakers preferring the claims of Too Darn Hot.

Aidan O'Brien, a five-time winner of Goodwood's most valuable prize, also saddles I Can Fly, whose personal best effort came when second to Roaring Lion in the 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

O'Brien said: "Circus Maximus is in good shape. He had a little break after his Ascot win and all has gone well with him. I Can Fly has been very consistent and ran very well in the Falmouth last time."

Circus Maximus Pros: His Ascot success was no fluke and he looks highly likely to run his race

Circus Maximus Cons: Seemed to outstay Too Darn Hot at Ascot and this could be a tougher assignment

Hills eyes return to Curragh form for Phoenix

We have seen two very different incarnations of Phoenix Of Spain this season.

On his belated return, and racing from the front for the first time in his career, he stunned the Irish 2,000 Guineas opposition, thumping runner-up Too Darn Hot by three lengths.

Next time out at Royal Ascot he never got his head in front and finished nearly three lengths behind Too Darn Hot in the St James's Palace Stakes won by Circus Maximus.

Jamie Spencer's mount meets both those Ascot rivals again but does so after a 43-day break that Charlie Hills believes has been helpful.

"He could well have bounced last time," said Hills. "He put up such a big performance off a long layoff at the Curragh and was then very busy between the two races.

"We've been able to freshen him up since Ascot and I've been pleased with him over the last couple of weeks. He has been working nicely."

Hills added: "Looking at the race it seems like four of them have an obvious chance and if any of those four turns up at the very best of their form they should win. We need to see if our horse handles the track and we also need to think about how we should ride him."

Pros: Looked seriously good at the Curragh and could be hard to pass if allowed an easy lead

Cons: Needs to bounce back after a disappointing effort at Ascot

Glitters camp hoping for better Goodwood luck

For all his work Lord Glitters finally claimed Group 1 gold when landing the Queen Anne Stakes last time out. Now he tries to follow up in a race in which he has previously taken bronze.

In the Sussex Stakes of 2018 the Yorkshire star found himself running into a wall of horses approaching the final furlong, a situation that prompted Danny Tudhope to circle the field and propel his mount forward for a fast-finishing effort that took him into third behind Lightning Spear and subsequent Breeders' Cup champion Expert Eye.

There was also a third behind Almond Eye at Meydan in March, but most recently the outcome was better, as Tudhope steered the six-year-old to a thoroughly merited top-flight success at Royal Ascot.

"Over the last couple of years he has been fantastic in top-quality races," said trainer David O'Meara. 

"He was third in the Sussex last year but didn't get the best run round. The Queen Anne has thrown up both Romanised and Laurens, who have won since, so that race is working out very well."

Offering words of caution, O'Meara added: "He has got to give the three-year-olds 8lb. It will prove tricky to give that sort of weight to the likes of Too Darn Hot."

Pros: Comes here off the back of a super effort and was arguably unlucky not to finish closer 12 months ago

Cons: Limitations in the highest company have been exposed in the past and has an ordinary wins to runs ratio

Agent trainer warns against dismissing her charge

Accidental Agent surprised people when he won the 2018 Queen Anne Stakes and then surprised even more people when refusing to start in the 2019 Queen Anne. If he starts on terms on his first assault on the Sussex Stakes he could well surprise us once more.

Back at Ascot last time he finished fourth in the Group 2 Summer Mile having dwelt at the gates, which is one reason headgear is now fitted.

Accidental Agent canters back under Charles Bishop after disgracing himself in the Queen Anne Stakes

"We hope he wins, we think he'll be placed and we expect him to jump out," said trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.

"We still don't know why he didn't start in the Queen Anne. He has never done that at home, and although he was a little slowly away at Ascot last time, he did start.

"The cheekpieces should help him travel a bit better, which is going to be more important at Goodwood than on a straight course. In theory, wherever Lord Glitters finishes, we should be bang there with him."

Drop to a mile may assist Zabeel Prince

Zabeel Prince and Andrea Atzeni finished last of eight in the Coral-Eclipse but the form figure certainly does not tell the whole story, with trainer Roger Varian now looking forward to dropping the Prix d'Ispahan winner back in distance.

"I'm not suggesting he was an unlucky loser at Sandown but with a better run through the race he might have beaten a few horses," said Varian.

"He came there going well but the door was shut on him. Just when Andrea had a lot of horse underneath him he had nowhere to go and then when there was a room he couldn't regain his momentum.

"I think he is going to be suited by the drop in trip at Goodwood and he isn't ground-dependent. He deserves to be in the line-up."

Balding bids for another shock success

When you look at Happy Power's form, and when you then consider his place in the betting, it would be easy to dismiss his case immediately. That might be dangerous.

The King Power Racing three-year-old has won nothing bigger than a York Listed event, while he most recently finished four lengths behind the winner in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes, but he does represent trainer Andrew Balding, whose Here Comes When won this contest two years ago at 20-1.

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Ascot played to the strengths of Circus Maximus. It certainly didn't play to ours
E.W. Terms