No ground concerns for Jim Bolger as Poetic Flare takes on top fillies in Sussex
Wednesday: 3.35 Goodwood
Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group 1) | 1m | 3yo+ | ITV/RTV
Jim Bolger is not fretting about the opposition, the ground or the 43 days in which Poetic Flare has been absent from racecourse action as he looks forward to unleashing his outstanding miler in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Victory for Poetic Flare would give Bolger a first success in Glorious Goodwood's signature prize and also complete a huge treble that narrowly eluded the brilliant three-year-old's famous father.
Like his son, Dawn Approach was trained by Bolger to land the 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes, but on rain-softened ground he succumbed to Toronado when set the Sussex test.
The conditions are expected to be even softer on this occasion and, although Poetic Flare came within a short-head of beating stablemate Mac Swiney in a muddy Irish 2,000 Guineas, he produced much his most thrilling display when romping to a wide-margin triumph on a fast surface at Royal Ascot.
That was his fifth outing in just over two months, yet Bolger is adamant his homebred marvel will not have forgotten how to race in the interim.
He told British Champions Series: "He's only had a break in as much as he hasn't been racing, but he's a horse who I have to keep moving, so it hasn't exactly been a holiday. He's very well and I couldn't be happier with him.
"It was fast ground when Poetic Flare won at Ascot, and it might well be that he's better on that better ground, but he seems to handle all going and he's pretty good on soft, too.
"My preference would be for good ground, but whatever it is, I'll take it. I'm very happy with my horse and I don't worry too much about anybody else's."
Hannon hoping Snow can strike
The Hannons were responsible for denying Dawn Approach in the 2013 Sussex Stakes and could now take down Poetic Flare with Snow Lantern, a Group 1-winning filly whose parents had very different experiences of Goodwood in high summer.
For although Frankel – also responsible for Saturday's King George hero Adayar – claimed consecutive wins in the now £1 million showpiece, Sky Lantern met all sorts of trouble in running when fifth in the 2013 Nassau Stakes.
The Nassau was also an option for Snow Lantern, but having chased home Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes and then avenged that eclipse in the Falmouth Stakes, she sticks to a mile, although this time under Jamie Spencer due to regular partner Sean Levey being suspended.
Richard Hannon, whose father Richard snr held the licence when Toronado and Sky Lantern were competing, said: "We could have gone for the Nassau but I was keen to stick to a mile for now. She stays in training next year and can go up to a mile and a quarter then.
"This is one of the biggest mile races in the calendar, and it'd be great to win it, but if she gets beaten it won't be a disaster and we'll just regroup. I think Poetic Flare is the most impressive three-year-old we've seen all season but our filly is the most lightly raced horse in the field and I hope there's still more to come from her.
"She's now relaxing so much better than was once the case, which is a big thing, and we know she's going to be fine on the ground. She worked as she always does on Sunday, namely very economically, but she was great in her body and mind, so we're looking forward to another big run."
Smith bids to end 37-year Sussex drought
Alcohol Free's owner Jeff Smith is aiming to rewind the clock 37 years, back to when his famous silks were carried to Goodwood Group 1 glory by the mighty Chief Singer.
Smith has enjoyed a number of memorable Goodwood days since then – not least with public champion Persian Punch – and has genuine reasons for believing his Andrew Balding-trained Royal Ascot heroine can do better than her third behind Snow Lantern at Newmarket.
"I remember every minute of the day Chief Singer won," said Smith. "How often do you win the Sussex Stakes? I can say that because I haven't won it since!"
But will he win it this time?
"It really does look the perfect race for her," said Smith. "She has got so much speed, a real turn of foot, the ground won't be a problem and she has excellent form around a bend. We certainly can't be bullish, not least because Poetic Flare looks very good and probably deserves to be odds-on, but we're hopeful she'll run another big race.
Smith added: "We've always known this was going to be her main target after the Coronation. We were even half-tempted to miss the Falmouth but she wanted a race.
"It was a nuisance that we ended up making the running there. Oisin [Murphy] tried to miss the break but she broke like a sprinter and he then couldn't take a pull. She set the race up for the rest but it should be easier to get cover racing around a bend."
What they say
Simon Crisford, joint-trainer of Century Dream
His best form is on soft ground. He's going to need to perform to his maximum capabilities and run to a very high level, but on the sort of ground they've got at Goodwood he's capable of doing that.
Andre Fabre, trainer of Duhail
He's a genuine, consistent miler who doesn't know how to run a bad race. He's been below top class so far but he's progressive and I'm hopeful he could get a place. Soft ground won't harm his chances.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Lope Y Fernandez and Order Of Australia
We think Lope Y Fernandez has come forward again since Ascot. He's very straightforward and is progressing well. Order Of Australia has come out of last weekend’s win at the Curragh very well and the Sussex Stakes is a race that could suit him. He can be ridden very forward and is happy making the running, although we would be delighted to get a lead.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Tilsit
He's still very lightly raced and is unexposed. I was really pleased with his win in the Summer Mile and he won a Group 3 at the meeting last year, so we know he handles the track.
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