Mohaather primed for Sussex Stakes challenge

Two Guineas winners lie in wait for epic tussle on the Downs.

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Marcus Tregoning reports Mohaather in fine shape as he goes for Group One glory in a star-studded edition of the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

The lightly-raced four-year-old was an impressive winner of Ascot’s Summer Mile from San Donato, erasing the memory of a luckless run in the Queen Anne won by Circus Maximus at the Royal meeting.

Whitsbury trainer Tregoning said: “He’s in good form. It’s not a biggish field, and hopefully he’ll run very well.

“He’s done very well. In all honesty, it was quite an easy race for him (at Ascot) as it turned out. He didn’t have that hard a race and came out of it rather well. 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.”

Ger Lyons believes his Classic winner Siskin has to improve on what he has achieved so far to prevail against the likes of Mohaather.

The First Defence colt is unbeaten in five starts after his latest success in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

“The form of the Irish Guineas has been ripped apart by the experts,” said Lyons.

“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 has to improve to even get close to some of these horses.

“He is working well at home, but he does need to improve. Only when he runs will we know if he has or not. The Guineas is in the bag, and that can’t be taken away.

“I think he’ll cope with the track, because he’s pretty straightforward – he’s going to have to.

“He’s only had the one run (this season) – that’s the way we chose to do it, but I won’t be using it as an excuse. He’s a very professional horse, and if he gets beat it’s because he’s not good enough.

“The horse has done everything I’ve asked of him, but he’s going to know about it on Wednesday.”

The form of the current Classic crop is being put to the test, with English 2000 Guineas winner Kameko throwing his hat into the ring too.

The Andrew Balding-trained colt drops back to his optimum trip, after running out of steam over a mile and a half in the Investec Derby when he was fourth to runaway winner Serpentine.

Balding has been pleased with the son of Kitten’s Joy after Epsom, and is excited at the prospect of such a high-quality race – one that offers automatic entry for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland later in the year.

“He won a Guineas over a mile, so it was always the intention to come back down in trip after the Derby,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“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.”

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for three of the seven runners – last year’s runner-up Circus Maximus and the three-year-olds Vatican City and Wichita.

Vatican City chased home Siskin at the Curragh, but made no impact in the Derby at Epsom.

“The Irish Guineas was a funnily-run race,” said O’Brien.

“We had the pace in it, and it was probably plenty slow enough for our horses – it just became a bit of a mess.

“They were all in it three furlongs out, and it was just who was going to get a run after that. They all sprinted past the line – and when you see horses being hard to pull up at the Curragh, it’s usually not a good sign and usually means it wasn’t a true-run race.

“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 found only Too Darn Hot too good in this race 12 months ago, and tries to go one better on the back of a narrow victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“He will only ever just win – Ryan (Moore) will tell you, that’s the way he is,” said O’Brien.

“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 went down by a neck to Kameko at Newmarket and was third to Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“We’ve been happy with him since Ascot,” said O’Brien.

“He’s 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.”

San Donato’s run behind Mohaather was his first race since his third in the French 2000 Guineas in May 2019, and only the seventh of his career.

Trainer Roger Varian was pleased with that effort, and expects him to have benefited from it.

“It’s been jolly frustrating that he’s only run twice in the last 20 months – but they’ve been two very good runs,” said the Newmarket handler.

“The winner (Mohaather) 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.”

Mohaather primed for Sussex Stakes challenge
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