sport

Four runners in Sussex Stakes

View from connections ahead of the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, for which only two rivals tackle headline duo Kingman and Toronado.

Kingman and Toronado will face just two rivals in the Qipco Sussex Stakes after War Command was ruled out of the one-mile feature at Goodwood on Wednesday.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old is reported to be lame, leaving his stablemate Darwin and Godolphin's Outstrip taking on the two big guns.

Despite the field being reduced by one, Kingman faces the acid test for a Classic-winning three-year-old when he takes on a proven older performer in Toronado.

This clash between two brilliant milers has been billed as the latest "Duel on the Downs" as the talented duo put their reputations on the line in the Group One at the picturesque Sussex venue.

Kingman is the undoubted number one of his generation at the trip, making amends for a defeat in the Qipco 2000 Guineas to win the Irish equivalent at the Curragh and the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

This race is likely to ask further questions of the John Gosden-trained colt.

"It's going to be a fascinating contest," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.

"It's very important for the Classic generation to take on the older horses to try to prove themselves, and he's got other horses to beat, not just one."

Goodwood will be a new experience for Kingman and it is not the easiest track to negotiate as Gosden explained.

"I know the track well. If you walk it from the mile start, the track can surprise you. So many of these tracks can deceive you if you just watch them on the TV," the Newmarket trainer told At The Races.

"He's in good form and I'd be happy with him.

"I think the betting is a little extreme at the moment, but he doesn't know the odds in the paper."

The course will hold no fears for Toronado as he won the race 12 months ago when he overcame a quality field that included his 2000 Guineas and Royal Ascot conqueror Dawn Approach and the year older Declaration Of War.

Connections believe experience could give their star colt an edge over Kingman and Toronado is reported by his trainer Richard Hannon to have done thrived since his seasonal debut success in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"Toronado's last piece of work was exceptional, and we could not be happier with him. He is definitely a stronger horse than he was last year, and he has also toughened up mentally," the Marlborough handler told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.

"We were delighted he won first time out in the Queen Anne, but we also knew that he wasn't on his A-game.

"He had been off a long time and was probably a bit rusty, but since Royal Ascot he has thrived and, while we have huge respect for Kingman, Toronado has a course victory on his CV and that counts for a lot as Goodwood is not an easy track.

"Between me and Hughesie we've both talked enough about how much we think of Toronado. We have horses that aren't class horses and aren't stars and we like to let people know when we do like them. We've never made a secret of him.

"Kingman is top class and the most exciting three-year-old over a mile. It's going to be a great race.

"Kingman gets weight off us, but we know Toronado likes the track, we're looking forward to it."

Outstrip was just touched off by Toronado's stablemate Toormore in the Vintage Stakes on this course last summer and was a good third to Kingman, beaten three and a quarter lengths, in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trainer Charlie Appleby has been delighted with the grey's condition and feels the Breeders' Cup Turf Juvenile winner has it in him to run a decent race.

"He's an athletic horse and handled the course at Goodwood well last year. We felt that he hit the front a little too soon in the Vintage Stakes but we learned a lot from that run," he said.

"We were disappointed with him in the Guineas but he had a genuine excuse that day as he scoped very badly afterwards.

"I had been pleased with his preparation going into Newmarket and I was very happy going into Royal Ascot, where he produced what I thought was a career-best performance."