Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes is the pivotal event of the Glorious Goodwood meeting and Poetic Flare – an electrifying Royal Ascot winner last month – looks the pivotal player in this famous 1600m G1 clash between three-year-olds and older horses.
The geography of Goodwood centres on the gorgeous Sussex countryside and the history of the Sussex Stakes as a championship event for milers dates back to 1878 – with a roll of honour including world champion Frankel, the only horse to have won it twice.
Jim Bolger is both the breeder and trainer of Poetic Flare, who is owned by his wife Jackie. Bolger also has an extraordinary history having sent out big-race winners from his County Kilkenny Irish base for 40 years, including the 2004 Hong Kong Cup with Alexander Goldrun.
But of Poetic Flare, by Classic winner Dawn Approach who Bolger also trained, the 79-year-old does not hesitate to remark: “He’s the most complete racehorse I’ve ever trained, the complete package. You couldn’t find fault with him.”
That comment comes after an already extraordinary season for Poetic Flare who followed up a Listed victory in the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial Stakes (1400m) at Leopardstown with a nail-biting short-head victory in May’s G1 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Newmarket. Things didn’t work out in the French equivalent – Longchamp’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains – where, competing in his third 1600m G1 European Classic in 22 days, he failed by just a short-head to catch front-running stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Many considered that this intense schedule and a fourth G1 encounter in 45 days would result in his downfall in June’s St James’s Palace Stakes (1594m), but the complete opposite occurred. Always travelling smoothly under regular rider Kevin Manning – Bolger’s 54-year-old son-in-law – Poetic Flare whipped his 12 rivals by 4 1/4 lengths and upwards in the famous Royal Ascot G1.
Reflecting on that, Bolger again praised the colt’s unique ability. “I’ve never had one that has taken everything he has taken,” before adding: “I would have been happy with any type of win. But I really did expect a performance like that,” and referring to the challenge of the Sussex Stakes the brilliant veteran trainer adds: “Now I am looking forward to him taking on older horses.”
They may include fellow Irish raiders from the Ballydoyle stable of five-time winning Sussex Stakes stable trainer Aidan O’Brien including last November’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile (1600m) winner Order Of Australia. And Newmarket trained Century Dream, a seven-year-old who looks better than ever. Predicted rain will be very much in favour of the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained horse.
Alcohol Free, winner of Royal Ascot G1 Coronation Stakes (1594m), and Snow Lantern, whose thrilling late surge saw her win this month’s G1 Falmouth Stakes (1600m) at Newmarket, are two immensely talented three-year-old fillies, trained by Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon respectively, both also with worthy Sussex Stakes claims.