TRAINER Hugo Palmer expects there to be “no hiding place” at Goodwood today as Galileo Gold bids to continue his fantastic season in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, the feature of the five day festival of racing.
Winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Galileo Gold had to make do with the runner-up spot behind the Kevin Prendergast-trained Awtaad when chasing a Classic double in the Irish Guineas, but gained his revenge in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Splitting the pair in Berkshire was Aidan O’Brien’s French 2000 Guineas hero The Gurkha and the three engage in a thrilling rematch in today’s Group One mile contest.
“There’s only one enjoyable result for me. I loved the Guineas, I loved Ascot, but the Curragh was less enjoyable,” said Palmer.
“His work has been good since Ascot, he’s got physically stronger and we know he handles the track because he won well there last year in the Vintage Stakes.
“He is going to run on faster ground than he’s been running on this year but then that’s the same for all of them.
“There’s no hiding place in a race like this and it’s great for racing having these three leading milers taking each other on.
“I’ve always thought Galileo Gold has been slightly underrated, but he’s got the form in the book now.”
Frankie Dettori has been ever-present in the saddle since Galileo Gold’s Glorious Goodwood success 12 months ago and he is also relishing the task in hand.
Dettori said: “The Sussex Stakes has been the plan and it is on a track he has raced on before so that’s one tick in his favour.
“Again it will be a great renewal with three Guineas winners in and some good older horses. I am looking forward to the challenge.
“I am not saying we are going to win it but I am very confident he will run a huge race if luck is on our side.”
The Gurkha, so impressive at Deauville in mid-May before filling the runner-up spot at Ascot, has since contested the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and was narrowly beaten by Godolphin’s Hawkbill.
O’Brien said: “Obviously we have not done much since the Eclipse. I think he travelled well that day but I suppose the ground was softer than ideal. I thought he ran a good race. We think he is a hardy horse at home and he has been taking his races very well so far.”
Prendergast felt conditions at Ascot were too testing for Awtaad and appears quietly confident his star colt can turn the form around.
The fourth and final three-year-old in the 10-strong field is Richard Fahey’s Ribchester, who was third behind Galileo Gold at Newmarket before winning Ascot’s Jersey Stakes.
Malton-based Fahey said: “Ribchester is in great order and we are happy with him. Having won the Jersey Stakes, you would have to say that we made the right decision in going for that race, although it does leave a question mark as to what might have happened if he had run in the St James’s Palace.
“The three-year-olds seem to come forward throughout the season but Ribchester has definitely improved. It’s just a question of how much the others have improved as well.”
The North Yorkshire-based trainer also saddles Gabrial, who was third in this race 12 months ago and in 2012 behind the great Frankel.
Ribchester is one of three runners for Godolphin, with John Gosden’s Richard Pankhurst and the Richard Hannon-trained Toormore also in contention.
Meanwhile connections of The Last Lion, trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston, believe quick conditions will not hinder his chances of claiming a first Pattern-race win in the Victoria Racing Club Molecomb Stakes.
While the two-year-old’s best form has been achieved with give underfoot, the colt has some respectable form on a quicker surface, similar to the one he will encounter in the Group Three contest.
Although finding Prince Of Lir too strong in both a conditions race at Beverley and in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, the son of Choisir gained a much-deserved second success last time out when overcoming a tricky draw to claim a Listed victory at Sandown.
“I think he is the horse they all have to beat on the back of his second in the Norfolk,” said Charlie Johnston, the trainer’s son and assistant.
“Obviously his best form has been with cut in the ground, but at the same time he run Prince Of Lir close like he did at Ascot at Beverley on quick ground.
“He has taken his racing very well. Ever since his win in the Dragon Stakes this has been the target for him and it’s all systems go.”
The stable will also be represented in the five-furlong event by dual winner Yalta.
Johnston junior added: “He showed a huge amount of class when winning a couple of minor races but he has not quite been up with it since he has been stepped up with the big boys.”