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Mohaather primed for Sussex glory in race of the season

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The suspicion is that a mile-and-a-quarter will be Kameko's optimum trip. He cannot be dismissed lightly though (stock photo)

The suspicion is that a mile-and-a-quarter will be Kameko's optimum trip. He cannot be dismissed lightly though (stock photo)

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The suspicion is that a mile-and-a-quarter will be Kameko's optimum trip. He cannot be dismissed lightly though (stock photo)

The Qatar Sussex Stakes has always been a popular destination for Europe's best milers, but today's contest, on paper at least, looks like the race of the season so far, and one which will go a long way to defining this term's champion over the distance.

Coming four days after the King George, which could only muster three runners - it was rescued to a certain extent by Enable's ­imperious performance - among the seven due to go to post for the Sussex are the four most exciting milers in England and Ireland.

It pits the best of the Classic ­generation, English 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko and Irish Guineas winner Siskin, against the best older horses, Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus and Summer Mile winner Mohaather.

And while Wichita, Vatican City and San Donato, two of whom have been placed in Classics, do not arrive with such laurels, they are not far behind in terms of ability, and it would be no surprise were any of them to upset what ­appears to be the established order.

Ger Lyons sends the Khalid ­Abdullah owner-bred Siskin over and it is a mark of the esteem in which the trainer and jockey Colin Keane hold the unbeaten son of First Defence that Keane is prepared to forgo two weeks in the saddle in Ireland because of the quarantine he will have to serve on his return.

His win in the Irish Guineas - he showed a terrific turn of speed after being hemmed in to beat Vatican City - looked visually the most impressive performance by any three-year-old in Europe this season.

But, while he could only beat what was put in front of him, the race has not worked out, although Vatican City's subsequent run in the Derby could be put down to the distance. There may yet be more in Siskin's tank, but even Lyons says he has to improve to win today.

Kameko, which beat Wichita a neck in the Guineas, was also stretched out to a mile and a half in the Derby, finishing fourth, and the suspicion is that a mile-and-a-quarter will be his optimum trip. He cannot be dismissed lightly though.

Arguably Circus Maximus, a half-length runner-up to Too Darn Hot in this race a year ago, sets the standard. He was the surprise winner of the St James's Palace Stakes last year, but he repeated the dose by winning the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot this year.

They are the three Group One winners in the race, but it is Mohaather, Marcus Tregoning's lightly-raced four-year-old, whose career has been held up by injury and is "only" a Group Two winner at the moment, that is selected to beat them all.

The colt was the only blip in Jim Crowley's Royal Ascot this year, when he got hemmed in during the Queen Anne and was waiting the best part of three furlongs for a gap to come his way. When it did, it was way too late. Tregoning, who warmed up for this by saddling Alkumait to win the six-furlong maiden yesterday, took Mohaather back to Ascot this month for the Summer Mile and he won with devastating authority.

"I'm quite confident Mohaather is in great form - it's just whether we can beat two Classic winners," Tregoning said. "I haven't had a runner in the Sussex Stakes, but I'd like to win it for my owner."

Otherwise, it looks a typically tricky Goodwood card. Significantly will probably be sent off favourite for the Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes over five furlongs on account of his second to Gussy Mac at Sandown recently.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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