Dansili looks the sensible choice

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The Independent Online

When Aljabr ducks between the ropes at Goodwood today for the Sussex Stakes he may get a pleasant tinge of recollection. It was 12 months ago that Godolphin's grey ran his rivals into the Sussex dirt and today he attempts to become the first horse in the history of the Group One race to win it twice (the mile contest was opened up to runners above the age of three only in 1960).

When Aljabr ducks between the ropes at Goodwood today for the Sussex Stakes he may get a pleasant tinge of recollection. It was 12 months ago that Godolphin's grey ran his rivals into the Sussex dirt and today he attempts to become the first horse in the history of the Group One race to win it twice (the mile contest was opened up to runners above the age of three only in 1960).

Aljabr won the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury easily enough this year but his latest performance when fourth in the Queen Anne Stakes was most puzzling and on that form he will struggle to cope with the French colt, Dansili. And while Aljabr might have recent winning memories here on the roof of Sussex, the oldest ones belong to John Gosden. The trainer who was born and nurtured at nearby Hove remembers the Chesterfield Cup of 1959 as if it was yesterday, principally because it was won by his dad, Towser. Father and son used to watch the action from Trundle Hill and Gosden gets all nostalgic about the day he remembers as an eight-year-old. "Aggressor was the best horse father trained and beat the mighty Petite Etoile in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot the following season," he says. "The old man brought him through the ranks and it was a great training performance to win the Chesterfield Cup, because he was a mudlark and the ground that day was like the A23."

Now Gosden junior has a chance of his own as he saddles Valentino, who was just a head behind Giant's Causeway in the St James's Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting. "He was a horse whom Peter Chapple-Hyam always liked last year and I was lucky enough to inherit him," Gosden says. "He ran a smashing race to finish third to Bachir in the French 2,000 Guineas, especially as he was denied a prep-race because of his sinus problems.

"We then took him to Royal Ascot hoping to maybe nick fourth place in what was a very hot St James's Palace, and he ran an unbelievable race, being beaten only a head by Giant's Causeway, who went on to win the Eclipse. That was only Valentino's fourth race, and he is clearly a colt with a big future. I thought for a stride or two at Ascot that we had it in the bag."

Giant's Causeway will not lie down easily however. He again showed his mettle in the Eclipse and is a changed animal since defeat in the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas persuaded Aidan O'Brien to alter the chestnut's training regime.

Another to look at is Arkadian Hero, Newmarket's Criterion Stakes winner over seven furlongs, who now works his way up to a mile. "We got into a blind alley with him early in his three-year-old career and kept him to sprinting, but he is much more settled and relaxed when he goes racing now," Luca Cumani, his trainer, says. "In his last race, he benefited from going up another furlong and, although the Sussex Stakes is a tough target, he has shown me that he will stay a mile."

There is quality in depth here and it might be that this is the time to sweep away the established order. It might be that Valentino can reverse Ascot form with Giant's Causeway, and it is not impossible to imagine that DANSILI (nap 3.20) may now be the best of the lot.

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