Seniority points to Forest

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Older horses have had by far the better of the exchanges in their encounters with the Classic generation this season at Group and Listed level. After Shaamit's defeat by Pentire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the three-year-olds could claim just eight wins from 28 mixed- age contests at that grade in Britain.

This is not in itself evidence of a sub-standard crop - the figures on the eve of Glorious Goodwood last year were remarkably similar, nine from 31, although that tally included Lammtarra's King George win.

But the three-year-old challenge for the Group One Sussex Stakes today looks thin enough. Alhaarth, who a year ago emerged as the leading juvenile when winning the Lanson Champagne Vintage Stakes, has endured possibly the most prolonged public humiliation of any champion two-year-old since the failures of Lunchtime as a three-year-old in 1973.

It is hard to see him recapturing his old ability dropped back to a mile, while Matiya, the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner, may not be suited by Goodwood's contours, so Sorbie Tower holds the best chance of the three-year-olds.

Charnwood Forest has yet to succeed at the highest level, but has long been reputed capable of doing so - in 1994 he was widely believed to be Henry Cecil's best two-year-old in a batch that included Classic Cliche and Moonshell.

Like them, Charnwood Forest has since joined Godolphin, who produced him to win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in impressive style on his favoured fast going. That performance puts him on a rating of 127 and suggests he is ready to establish himself as the season's leading miler.

Luke Ardley's Independent ratings for today's Lanson Champagne Vintage Stakes and Sussex Stakes appear on the Goodwood racecard after each horse's stalls position. All Group races throughout the Flat season will also carry Independent ratings.