Racing: Kelleway stakes it all on Sorbie

Sue Montgomery looks ahead to the feature race at Glorious Goodwood
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The Independent Online
Gay Kelleway is aiming to rattle a few well-established cages this week as the top-level focus switches back to a mile with the 146th running of the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. Her bargain colt Sorbie Tower is set to challenge the best in Wednesday's pounds 125,000 race, the season's first Group One clash of the generations over eight furlongs.

Sorbie Tower may have been born on 1 April, but - like his trainer - he's no fool. No more than a promising two-year-old last year, he has made dramatic improvement this season, and proved he was well worth a tilt at the big guns with his third place, at 33-1, in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, right on the heels of two top-class performers, Bijou D'Inde and Ashkalani.

Kelleway, enjoying the best season of her short career, picked Sorbie Tower, a son of unfashionable stallion Soviet Lad, out at the yearling sales for just 13,000 guineas. She said: "His knees are offset, and his pedigree wouldn't exactly set you alight. But he looked as if he would be a racehorse."

That judgement was justified when Sorbie Tower won his first three races this season in tremendous style before meeting narrow defeat after a rough race at Kempton in May. Richard Hughes replaced the colt's sidelined regular rider, Ray Cochrane, at Ascot and, after his tremendous effort, he is likely to retain the ride this week.

Sorbie Tower will turn out on Wednesday at his ideal fighting weight of 462 kilos. Dorset-based Kelleway, 32, said: "He was on edge, really wound up, for a long time afterward the Kempton race, and I was really worried we might have lost him mentally. He had much a less stressful time at Ascot."

The tall bay is one of three Sussex Stakes runners who appeared on that first day of Royal Ascot. The other two, both four-year-olds, were both impressive winners. Charnwood Forest was the first to throw down the champion miler gauntlet; the ubiquitous Godolphin colour-bearer took the Queen Anne Stakes with an easy four-length defeat of Restructure, then 35 minutes later First Island, representing the Pentire team of Geoff Wragg and Mollers Racing, broke the ten-furlongs course record in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes.

Neither Wragg nor Saeed bin Suroor are strangers to victory at the highest level, but at Ascot Sorbie Tower was Kelleway's first Group One runner. "For a new young trainer like me, it's a dream even to compete in races like these," she said, "but Sorbie Tower will do us proud. His attitude is right; he pins his ears back and really wants to win." Sorbie Tower's owners Liz Nelson and John Hannah race under the syndicate name PDQ. Wednesday will show if their star is indeed pretty damn quick.