Reports02 August 2023

Exceptional Paddington 'as good as I've ridden' says effusive Ryan Moore after latest Group 1 strike in Sussex Stakes

Paddington: made it six wins in a row in the Sussex Stakes
Paddington: made it seven wins in a row in the Sussex StakesCredit: Alan Crowhurst

After the track took an all-day dousing, this was the slowest Sussex Stakes for at least half a century, taking the thick end of two minutes to run. Even so, the critical action was compressed into about 20 seconds from the home turn as Frankie Dettori sought to make the best of the bad hand he'd been dealt with a determined bid to secure a position on the stands' rail.

Paddington had been left in front to do his own thing until then and Ryan Moore had carefully set a sustainable pace. But Inspiral moving up on his outside at that point was a clear threat, there being quite a long way to travel in such conditions.

Since many another winner this week has finished powerfully along the stands' rail, Dettori's motive was obvious and there was little Moore could do to counter it. But Inspiral did not have it in her to maintain the advantage she'd gained.

In contrast, Paddington saw his race out as strongly as anyone could wish, fending off a final challenge from the French raider, Facteur Cheval, who outran odds of 11-1 to be second. It was a fourth consecutive Group 1 success for the new 'Iron horse' and the generally taciturn Moore was voluble in describing the faith he has in him.

"It's a hard thing to say but he gives you the feel that he's as good a horse as I've rode," the jockey said. "I think he's exceptional.

"He's handled everything that we've put in front of him, whether it's a mile or ten furlongs, soft ground or quick. He's a straightforward horse who thrives on his racing and really wants to do it for you."

Paddington proved too good for them again at Goodwood
Paddington proved too good for his rivals again at GoodwoodCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Asked about Dettori's move to the rail, Moore said: "It was a long way to go and you see the damage that did to Inspiral. We were racing too far out and she was done at the two. So that shows you. He had more in the tank."

Paddington has won on testing ground before but not in a Group race. Was Moore worried? "With him, I wouldn't care if it was snowing."

Aidan O'Brien chimed in along similar lines. "We weren't expecting the ground to be as tough as it is today but, knowing the horse, he could take it with a smile on his face," said the Ballydoyle trainer, wo was winning his sixth Sussex.

The first of those came 23 years ago with Giant's Causeway, whose name became synonymous with an unbreakable will to win. O'Brien has had a laundry list of top-class colts and fillies since then but never one who drew so many comparisons with the original Iron Horse as Paddington.

It will strike some as controversial but the trainer is now prepared to put his new star higher than the old one. "He's much quicker than the Giant was. He's tactically quick but he can quicken as well.

Paddington and Ryan Moore win their fifth consecutive Group 1 together in the Sussex Stakes
Aidan O'Brien: "This horse can really turn it on when you have to, in all types of ground – very unique"Credit: Edward Whitaker

"The Giant was tactically quick but he was dour after that. This horse can really turn it on when you have to, in all types of ground – very unique."

Paddington is expected to rattle along the same tracks as Giant's Causeway as far as York for the Juddmonte International, although O'Brien stressed no decision has yet been made and much depends on how the three-year-old takes this latest race in a busy season. We're at the stage of dreaming about what this colt might achieve, with the Cox Plate, the Breeders' Cup Mile and even the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe among the possible targets being bandied about.

"He can go anywhere, really," O'Brien said. "He can go any trip, I'd imagine – a mile, a mile and a quarter, he could even go further, I don't know."

So we can hope that he will continue to dance every dance. But his growing band of fans must make the most of him because it would be unrealistic to hope he might be back in training next year.

"Oh, Janey," was O'Brien's reaction when put on the spot about that during a Racing TV interview. "Listen, there's always a chance.

"But I know when genes present themselves that strong, how important they become. There's always the worry that something happens and you don't get to see what his progeny are going to be."

Read these next:

'It's like a victory' - trainer Jerome Reynier delighted after French ace Facteur Cheval excels in Sussex Stakes 

'He's the best two-year-old we've ever had' - Nunthorpe supplement on cards for Molecomb winner Big Evs 

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