It would have been the perfect occasion to retire, a sixth Sussex Stakes to equal Lester Piggott's record, but Pat Eddery does not indulge himself with fairy tales.
For the 30 plus years he has resided in the saddle, Eddery's template has been cold professionalism. It is an approach that has seen him gather 88 winners at this meeting, more than twice his nearest active rival, one which will see him ride as promised to the end of the season, and one which gathered him yet another highlight of the Glorious Goodwood gathering.
Reel Buddy had few friends in the betting - he was a 20-1 chance - but he had an immense ally on his back. Eddery may have lost just a little of his snap at the age of 51, but the calculating instincts remain vividly intact.
In the maelstrom of a most stimulating Group One race yesterday he resisted the impulse to panic as he swept from last to first, diving down the inner to secure the winning passage. All the whips were flying apart from his.
"They were going a pretty good gallop, motoring along," Eddery said. "Luckily enough they got to the furlong marker and they were all stopping while my little fellow had something in reserve.
"He's a funny old horse and you mustn't get at him. He can stop on you, so all you can do is squeeze him up. When I got to the front I was just a bit worried that he would take it easy and you cannot give him a smack. He would pull up with you."
It was a non-aggressive pact which made the difference between victory and failure. It was a crowded house on the Goodwood finishing line, as the first five - Statue Of Liberty, Norse Dancer, Zafeen and Moon Ballad were also in the mix - were covered by barely half a length.
Only the tip of the sun remains above the horizon on Eddery's career, a fact not squandered on his colleagues. The inmates of the weighing room emerged as Eddery returned to salute their doyen. There was no wasted emotion from the Irishman though, just quite satisfaction and the reiteration that he would march on until November. Then he will depart on his own terms. Decrepitude has not had the call.
"It's great to ride a Group One winner in my final season," Eddery added. "Some people may have thought I would retire if I rode another Group One winner, but I certainly won't be packing up at once. I enjoy it too much and I shall certainly go on for a bit longer, but overall the time has come to call it a day."
Credit must also be forwarded to Reel Buddy, the biggest-priced Sussex Stakes winner since 1963. He did the running after all. High up on the Sussex Downs, the five-year-old reached his own zenith. "He's never won anything better than a Group Three before, but he's always been the sort who might do something like this," Richard Hannon junior, son of the winning trainer, said. "He's picked his day big time."
More predictable was Mark Johnston's register of yet another century of winners, his 10th in succession and a record. Knavesmire Omen secured the landmark and Lucky Story hopped straight off it as he collected the Group Two Vintage Stakes and a 33-1 quote for next spring's 2,000 Guineas.
Lucky Story showed plenty of energy, not all of it employed going forward. He jumped like a buck each time he felt the sting of the whip. He looks interesting. "This is the best horse we have brought here since Mister Baileys [10 years ago]," Johnston said. "He's built, bred and got the form for the Guineas. There's a lot of learning still to do so we have to hope that the best is still to come."Reuse content