The Gurkha turns the tables on Galileo Gold in Sussex Stakes Thu, 28 Jul 2016

Richard Edmunds
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In a spectacular rematch of Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes, star three-year-olds Galileo Gold and The Gurkha went to war again in the Gr. 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood overnight and this time The Gurkha reversed the result.

Galileo Gold was a dominant 2000 Guineas winner in May, and when he came out on top in a St James’s Palace Stakes clash with Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad and French Guineas winner The Gurkha he appeared to confirm his superiority in this year’s European three-year-old crop. But The Gurkha had something to say about that at Goodwood.

As he did at Ascot, rider Frankie Dettori sent Galileo Gold to the lead and tried to dominate the race from in front. But this time The Gurkha was able to sneak out of a tight pocket just behind the leader in the straight before wearing Galileo Gold down through the last 200 metres and edging him out by a neck.

“Frankie got the run of the race and they're two very good colts,” winning rider Ryan Moore told Racing Post. “Mine enjoyed the ground and he will be better on even faster.

“I think he's had a tough campaign and he's thrived on it. It all points to him being an exciting horse for the rest of the year.”

A colt by Galileo out of the Danehill Dancer mare Chintz, The Gurkha is trained by Aidan O’Brien for the Coolmore team. He has had six starts for three wins and three placings. Following his French Guineas success and his Sussex Stakes win overnight he is now a dual Group One winner, with additional elite placings in the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

“It has been tough on him,” O’Brien said. “We were worried coming here after Sandown, but the lads said he was thriving. I was worried because he's had such a big career crammed into a short space of time. He didn't race last year, but he's danced every dance since.

“I think he can get a mile and get a mile and a quarter, but he's probably a miler.

“He has a lot of options. He has the mile races in France (Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix du Moulin]), he has the Champion Stakes and he has York (Juddmonte International).”

The connections of runner-up Galileo Gold were far from disappointed. The Paco Boy colt has now had nine starts for five wins and four placings. He too is a dual Group One winner and dual Group One placegetter.

“There's nothing between Galileo Gold and The Gurkha,” trainer Hugo Palmer said. “We debated whether to run a pacemaker. It’s hard when you’re sitting in front for so long, but no one else wanted to go on.

“Ryan Moore was in our slipstream, and when he came by there was not much we could do. I thought Ryan would win by further, but the fact he didn’t shows the talent and guts Galileo Gold has got.

“I never shy away from a fight and the question is where it will be next. The Jacques Le Marois is quite soon, then there is the Moulin, QEII and Breeders’ Cup Mile. But it would be nice if we can leave the donkey work for someone else next time.”

Third placegetter Ribchester completed a trifecta for three-year-olds in the weight-for-age feature. The fourth-placed Toormore was the best of the older horses, and he was ridden by champion Kiwi jockey James McDonald. The in-form rider was unable to add any further success overnight to his win in the Gr. 2 Lennox Stakes on the first day.