Too Darn Hot continued his resurgence with victory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
John Gosden’s Dubawi colt looked every inch a superstar in the making after rounding off an unbeaten juvenile season with victory in the Dewhurst last October, but the early part of his three-year-old campaign did not go to plan.
An early-spring setback ruled him out of a 2000 Guineas trial and ultimately the Classic itself, and subsequent defeats in the Dante, the Irish Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes suggested he might not be the force he was as a youngster.
However, having got his season up and running with victory in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville three and and a half weeks ago, he was a well-backed even-money favourite to follow up in Goodwood’s £1million feature – and ultimately did so with something to spare.
Irish Guineas hero Phoenix Of Spain cut out the early running, closely pursued by Aidan O’Brien’s St James’s Palace winner Circus Maximus, with Frankie Dettori happy to bide his time on the market leader.
Phoenix Of Spain dropped away tamely passing the two-furlong marker and while Circus Maximus briefly kicked, Too Darn Hot quickly reeled him in and only had to be pushed out in the dying strides to prevail by half a length.
Gosden said: “We knew the lovely grey horse (Phoenix Of Spain) would go forward and we knew Circus Maximus would go forward and they set an even pace, not a silly pace.
“Our horse was in tight, but I told Frankie to be patient and he sat and he waited. When the gap came, off he went.”
The Newmarket handler will consider options over a variety of different trips for Too Darn Hot, but views the Breeders’ Cup Mile as the perfect end-of-season target.
He said: “Seven furlongs is probably his best trip, but he gets a nice, flat mile. What caught him out was the stiff mile at the Curragh, when we ran him back too soon after the Dante, and the stiff mile with the rain in the St James’s Palace Stakes. He’s an out-and-out speed horse.
“The Jacques le Marois probably comes a little early, but you’ve got races like the Prix du Moulin and obviously the QEII, but you’ve also got the sprints.
“He’s in the Haydock Sprint Cup and he’ll be put in the sprint on Champions Day at Ascot, but a race I’m really toying with in my mind is the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It’s an oval, flat track on quick ground.
“A good seven-furlong horse loves the mile there (Santa Anita) and that might just be the one to think about more than anything – I think we’ll probably work back from that.”
Gosden and Dettori are enjoying an incredible run of success – last Saturday combining to win a pulsating renewal of the the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes with the magnificent Enable, before landing Tuesday’s Goodwood Cup for a third time with Stradivarius.
Dettori paid a fulsome tribute to the Clarehaven maestro, saying: “I’m so lucky. It’s an amazing team that we’ve got. We’ve got amazing horses that are trained by a fantastic genius of a trainer – I haven’t got enough superlatives for him.
“It’s not just Group Ones, the list of Group Ones I’ve won are amazing, massive races. I’ve had an amazing summer and long may it continue.
“John Gosden is the genius – he puts it on a plate for me and I do the rest.”
it could be back up to a mile and a quarter next time
O’Brien said of the runner-up: “I’m delighted with his run. I suppose that is what Ryan (Moore) was thinking (kicking on early) as he gets the stiff mile well. This is an easier mile than Ascot.
“There are a lot of things open to him as he is a relaxed horse. He is so relaxed at home – he just takes everything in his stride.
“It looks like it could be back up to a mile and a quarter next time.”
The Ballydoyle handler also saddled the third home, I Can Fly, and added: “She ran lovely. When the ground gets easier it will help her as well. A mile on easy ground with a strong pace is what she wants.”