Duel on the Downs is on

The Star Early Edition - - RACING -

THE Duel on the Downs is on af­ter Ai­dan O’Brien con­firmed his dual Guineas hero Churchill will take on Lockinge and Queen Anne win­ner Ribch­ester in a Good­wood clash that has ev­ery­thing.

The Sus­sex Stakes has pro­duced a suc­ces­sion of stun­ning clashes be­tween the gen­er­a­tions since Frankel beat Can­ford Cliffs in 2011.

The 2017 run­ning of the Qatar-spon­sored £1 mil­lion con­test had threat­ened to lack that kind of magic af­ter Churchill's dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance at Royal As­cot, but O’ Brien is con­vinced there were mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors for his de­feat in the St James’s Palace Stakes and is ready to let him take on the Richard Fa­hey­trained three-time Group 1 win­ner.

Throw in the added spice that it rep­re­sents Cool­more ver­sus a resur­gent Godol­phin, and it all com­bines to make for a race that will have rac­ing fans ar­gu­ing over the like­li­est win­ner from now un­til the off on Au­gust 2.


The bookmakers are cur­rently com­ing down on the side of Ribch­ester, who is a best-priced 1110 af­ter a pair of Group 1 wins this sea­son.

But with Godol­phin’s other pos­si­ble, Bar­ney Roy, ruled out by Richard Han­non, and the New­mar­ket and Cur­ragh cham­pion Churchill fi­nally com­mit­ted to the race by his trainer, the Cool­more rep­re­sen­ta­tive has been slashed into no big­ger that 15-8 (from 5-2) for the clash.

“Churchill’s good,’’ said O'Brien, who also con­firmed three-time Group 1 win­ner Win­ter would run in the Nas­sau Stakes the fol­low­ing day. “He’s come out of As­cot well and the plan is to go for the Sus­sex. I'm very happy with him and he’s been very well since As­cot.

“Noth­ing’s come to light, it was a very hot day in Ire­land and in Eng­land and maybe it was a com­bi­na­tion of the travel and the warm weather, but I don’t want to make ex­cuses. He seems in very good form.’’

Bar­ney Roy

That de­feat to Bar­ney Roy was Churchill’s first since his de­but, so he goes to Good­wood with some­thing to prove for a clash with the best horse he has faced in Ribch­ester. Fa­hey, who de­scribes Ribch­ester as the best he’s ever trained, is de­lighted with his charge. He said about Ribch­ester, who was third in the Sus­sex Stakes last year as a three-year-old: “We’ve been very lucky this sea­son, ev­ery­thing’s gone ac­cord­ing to plan, no is­sues. He en­joys his work and we’re happy. “Early on he was im­ma­ture men­tally and he over-raced a bit, but he en­joys it so much now. “He’s rated the high­est I’’ve ever trained, so it’s of­fi­cial and I can say he's the best I've trained.” - Racing­post.com

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