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Sussex Stakes 2021

The rematch between Snow Lantern and Alcohol Free: who can prevail in their third encounter? We’ll find out in the 2021 edition of the Sussex Stakes at picturesque Goodwood this afternoon.

Obviously this isn’t a two-horse race. The reigning 2000 Guineas- and St James’s Palace Stakes champ Poetic Flare is here too and is considered the short-priced favourite for the Sussex Stakes. Given his tremendously impressive CV there is every reason for him to be a key player today.

It was impossible not to be impressed by what he did at Royal Ascot. Some doubts where creeping in after two lower performances in the Irish & French Guineas, albeit he was beaten by exceptional opposition. Poetic Flare was back to his very best slaughtering a strong field in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

However, what is clear now is the fact that Poetic Flare enjoys fast ground and probably needs it to be seen at his best. He’ll handle anything soft but is not at his brilliant best in those type of conditions.

He will have to be at his very best today, I reckon. That is because the aforementioned Snow Lantern and Alcohol Free are improving all the time and can close the gap on Official Ratings with the help of ground they handle a lot better than Poetic Flare.

The evidence is in the book: Alcohol Free was a superb winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in heavy conditions. She has been on an upward curve ever since the start of this season, kicking off her campaign with success in the the Fred Darling Stakes, after that she wasn’t disgraced as fifth in the 1000 Guineas, and then her big day came at Royal Ascot where she beat smart rivals like Guineas winner Mother Earth and Snow Lantern.

She followed up with another strong performance in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago, where she went down only in the dying stride to Mother Earth and the fast finishing Snow Lantern.

Snow Lantern was arguably the unlucky one in the Coronation Stakes. Her path blocked at a crucial stage, she stayed on in eye-catching fashion. For a moment or two it seemed to be the same story at Newmarket, only this time she got out in time and ran down the leaders in a dramatic finish.

She is still lightly raced with only a handful of runs under her belt while improving with every run as the season progresses. This is crucial now that she goes against older horses as this time of the year is where the WFA allowance can be a major advantage.

There is little between Snow Lantern and Alcohol Free on any conceivable measure and both fillies continue to improve. It could come down to tactics: Alcohol Free is less complicated in the way she can be ridden. Snow Lantern needs to be ridden patiently and we saw this can be a problem. Thankfully Goodwood lends itself to hold-up tactics.

I firmly believe the three-year-olds have the advantage in the Sussex Stakes this year. The two fillies have prime chances, thanks to their progressive profile and their ability to handle softish ground really well. Poetic Flare, on the other hand, albeit not quite as good with cut in the ground, remains a formidable challenger.

The older horses are less exciting. Aiden O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez – although a runner-up performance in the Queen Anne Stakes rates fine form – and  Order Of Australia, the choice of Ryan Moore, appear exposed enough and may not be capable of giving weight away to superb younger rivals.

Tilsit has less mileage on the clock and is progressing nicely. He was a good winner of the Summer Mile when last seen. At the same time he locks just below top level and the fact he hasn’t run to a topspeed rating beyond 84 supports this notion.

Conclusion:
I find it hard to separate the two three-year-old fillies. They are incredibly closely matched on form and ratings. What tilts the scale toward Snow Lantern – certainly for me – is that she is progressing all the time with every run at the right time of the year. Goodwood will suit her perfectly, and simply from a price point of view she is a bigger and therefore highly attractive price at about 6/1 on the exchanges.

Falmouth Stakes 2021

An exciting rematch: the best three-year-old fillies battle it out over the mile as the first three home in the Coronation Stake go head-to-head.

Alcohol Free was a superb winner of the Royal Ascot race, firmly putting stamina doubts to rest as she stormed home in desperate conditions.

The daughter of No Nay Never clearly confirmed all the promise she showed as a juvenile, having won two of her three starts this season, with the only blip coming in the ultra-competitive 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

As impressive as her Ascot performance was, ground conditions will be completely different today. She has solid form on a faster surface also, nonetheless that is a question mark.

Connections of Snow Lantern had every right to feel a little bit unlucky after the grey didn’t get quite a clear run in the closing stages at Royal Ascot. She clearly settled much better than when beaten as odds-on favourite at York a few weeks earlier, though, and that gave her a chance to finish fast in the end.

Her talent was never in doubt, though, and the supremely well-bred Snow Lantern is still open to any amount of improvement.

The same could be said about Primo Bacio, who got the better of Snow Lantern at York. She quickened in visually impressive manner, following-up on an eye-catching seasonal debut performance in the Fred Darling Stakes.

Can she step up to Group 1 level? We’ll find out today. As visually arresting her last run was, on topspeed ratings she has plenty to find with the market principles.

Aiden O’Brien throws only one dart today. His 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth finished 3rd in the Coronation Stakes and was also a fine runner-up in the French Guineas before that.

She was an excellent juvenile but has stepped up as a three-year-old again and represents consistency of the highest order. She lost nothing in defeat at Royal Ascot. In fact, in my view, she enhancer her claims to be considered the favourite today.

Mother Earth clearly benefited from better ground at Newmarket, and it’s only down to her class that she performs nearly as well on slow going. As impressive as Alcohol Free and Snow Lantern appeared visually in the Coronation Stakes, Mother Earth’s finishing speed % was actually better that day.

Flying the flag for the older generation is Duke Of Cambridge Stakes winner Indie Angel. Although that is good form and she won well, she is well exposed and probably a league below the required standard in order to feature against the strong classic generation.

Lady Bowthorpe was runner-up that day and her consistency gives her a chance on any given day. Nonetheless, she has something to find with the market principles.

Perhaps the dark horse is who could spring a surprise, given her 20/1 price tag, is the Joseph O’Brien trained Pretty Gorgeaus. I feel it’s too early to say she hasn’t trained on after two starts in heavy conditions this year.

it was certainly an improved showing at Royal Ascot, where she can be marked up given she was tracking a fast pace while the first three home were all ridden with a bit more restraint.

In conclusion: There is little to chose between the market principles in terms of form. If Alcohol Free or Snow Lantern can improve again remains to be seen. They will have to, though, as I strongly fancy Mother Earth to run a massive race on the better ground. Given current odds she is overpriced at 6/1+.

……………

2.40 York: G3 Summer Stakes, 6f

A quick selection to throw in here as Last Empire looks a silly price in a wide open race. She has to give weight away and was beaten by Light Refrain earlier this year and was bitterly disappointing when last seen.

Nonetheless, if you can forgive her Haydock run, then she is one the more consistent fillies and mares in this race, and one of the few who has multiple times ran fast enough – judged by topspeed ratings – to feature prominently in a race of this class.

Last Empire has ran multiple times to 90+ topspeed ratings, and her Kilvington Stakes runner-up performance back in May saw her clock a 96 rating once again, showing she is still capable to run a a high level.

The drift in her price is a worry, yet 20/1+ on offer is a silly price which I can’t let go.

Saturday Preview: Lingfield Feature

Spiritual Star


Sovereign Debt
has been off for more than a year now and question is how much of his old class he still has. Makes AW debut for new yard. Should be fine on surface but big mark to overcome dropping into handicap.

Don’t Call Me hasn’t won for quite a while but finished well in 3rd in hot race last week, only neck beaten by 105 rated individual on first outing since October. Still career best required to win off current mark. However remains as good as ever and won strong Handicap last summer off 3lb lower.

Tiger Tale finished runner-up on couple of occasions in recent weeks. Mark is increasing without winning since good win at Kempton in autumn. Fine performance lto over CD when short of room in crucial moment. Career best required.

Secret Art is back after a break. Goes well on the All-Weather and ran well the last two starts in Autumn. Career best required today.

Melvin The Grate is much improved since switched to the All-Weather. Won with plenty in hand on penultimate start over CD and ran fine 3rd of revised mark lto when not having run of race. Needs good pace to be able to close from trailing position.

Energia Flavio hasn’t won in UK yet but has been competitive last three start on AW. Looks in the grip of the handicapper though. Claimers allowance sure to help however.

Freud is a French import and hasn’t been seen since August. Seems to act on AW but hard to know what to expect today.

Santefisio doesn’t win often but returned to form at Wolverhampton lto. May need more assistance from handicapper to be winning candidate in this class.

Spiritual Star won with plenty in hand over CD last month when dropped to a mile. Five pounds up looks fair and remains competitive, though more required up in class today.

Mindyourownbusiness finished a gutsy runner-up behind Spiritual Star a fortnight ago. Not too many miles on the clock and may improve again. But need to so as was fair beaten lto off similar mark.

Halation was progressive last season on turf. Placed on AW as well. Now back after break. Fitness a question mark but top jockey in the saddle a bonus.

Stormy Paradise was a fair lengths beaten on seasonal return over CD lto. Would need improve quite a bit for that run to be competitive here.

Verdict: This is a really competitive affair, as one would expect from a big feature Handicap on a Saturday. More than half of the field have the potential to be really competitive in this. There is no doubt that Melvin The Great is a fair favourite. He won with plenty in hand his penultimate start and followed up with another nice performance over course and distance. His running style means that he’ll always need a rattling pace and bit of luck as well. Not sure if he’ll get another clear run today. As he had it all going for him the last two. i would expect Tiger Tale, who finished runner-up behind Melvin The Grate before, and beat him by half a lengths lto then when he was second again. He hit the crossbar a couple of times now and it remains to be seen if he can win off his current mark. Another bold performance wouldn’t surprise though. Halation is a bit a dark horse today. Back after a break, progressive profile as a three year old. He could have still some unlocked potential and has Atzeni in the saddle.

Secret Art has a similar profile to a certain extend. He was competitive before a break and if he is match fit, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close today. All those mentioned until now should go well, but I feel they aren’t offering any value if it comes to odds. However the 12/1 for Don’t Call me looks huge. He remains most of his old class and done extremely well in a very good handicap at Wolverhampton last week. He hasn’t won off a mark as high as his current one, but this most recent performance indicates that he is well up to it. He didn’t get quite a clear run in the closing stages lto, but the slight drop to a mile should suit much better today anyway.

Not to underestimate is the chance of recent winner Spiritual Star either. An impressive winner over course and distance two weeks ago, his revised mark looks more than fair, if not even lenient to a certain extend, given with how much in hand he won and how similar winners have been hit with much higher increases. He hasn’t won off a mark as high as this, however was placed over CD off even higher last season. He has the habit of starting slowly from time to time. So that is a risk that he may lose the race already at the start. Yet 9/1 looks a very big price.

Selections:
Don’t Call Me @ 12/1 Sportingbet- 5pts win
Spiritual Star @ 9/1 William Hill – 5pts win