With the majority of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions set to be lifted in England on 19 July, it has been confirmed that sporting events in the country can return to full capacity. That means that the Goodwood Festival, which will run between 27-31 July, will be one of the first major meetings on the flat racing calendar to welcome back a strong contingent of racegoers.
The behind-closed-doors racing we have had to put up with throughout the peak of the pandemic just hasn’t been the same. So, to hear the roar of tens of thousands of spectators at ‘Glorious Goodwood’ over the course of the five-day meeting will be magnificent.
Of course, Day Two’s feature race, the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, which boasts a huge £600,000 prize purse, is the main attraction, and the bettors will already be torn on who to back in the horse racing betting — where there is little to separate the John Gosden-trained Palace Pier from Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare.
So, as you to and fro over who to back in the showpiece race, let’s take a quick look back at the last three winners…
2020 - Mohaather
Mohaather, the 3/1 second favourite, was trapped in the middle of a jam-packed field as the horses turned the final bend for home. And, with room not opening up down the middle, jockey Jim Crowley forced the Marcus Tregoning-trained horse to the outside, and he kicked Mohaather on at the half-a-furlong marker, leaving Circus Maximus and Siskin in his wake. It was a huge victory for the trainer, whose last triumph of such magnitude was in the 2006 Epsom Derby with Sir Percy.
"He's an absolute aeroplane. He's done it the hard way, everything went wrong for him," Crowley said afterwards.
2019 – Too Darn Hot
Too Darn Hot ended Gosden’s five-year wait for his second Sussex Stakes victory in 2019. With the field tightly compact, Circus Maximus and Ryan Moore made the first move, as the Irish jockey started asking for more at around the one-furlong marker. However, Frankie Dettori kicked Too Darn Hot on as well, and the Andrew Lloyd Webber-owned horse romped over the line just half-a-length clear of his Aidan O’Brien counterpart. It was a 10th Grade 1 victory of the season for Dettori, who also won the Goodwood Cup earlier in the week. After fracturing his hind cannon bone, Too Darn Hot was retired less than a week later.
"I'm so lucky. It's an amazing team that we've got," the Italian said. "We've got amazing horses that are trained by a fantastic genius of a trainer. I haven't got enough superlatives for him. I've had an amazing summer and long may it continue. John Gosden is the genius - he puts it on a plate for me and I do the rest."
2018 – Lightning Spear
After winning the Group 2 Celebration Mile back-to-back at Goodwood in 2016 and 2017, Lightning Spear finally landed his first top-grade victory in 2018. Always considered a nearly horse in the Group 1 races, the then seven-year-old stunned the rest of the field to win the Sussex Stakes from 9/1. The David Simcock-trained horse tracked the leaders at the one-furlong marker. But by half-a-furlong out, Oisin Murphy had guided Lightning Spear perfectly through the middle of the front two and into the lead. The one-and-a-half-length victory put the horse’s 15 Group 1-winless streak to bed.
“He's done very little wrong apart from winning a group 1,” Simcock said. “Just to see him fill up like that and quicken—that's the horse we see at home an awful lot, and it was just fantastic.”