Alcohol Free came out on top in the battle with favorite Poetic Flare in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. Successful in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June; the Andrew Balding-trained filly attempted to make all in the Falmouth at Newmarket last time out but had to give best close home to Snow Lantern, who took her on again.
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy was determined to delay his challenge on this occasion and made sure he played his hand late. After a slow early pace; Century Dream injected some speed into it a long way from home and caught a few rivals on the back foot.
Kevin Manning set off in pursuit on 11/8 favorite Poetic Flare and on entering the final furlong hit the front – but Jim Bolger’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero was soon to face a bigger challenge; as Alcohol Free (7/2) quickened impressively and went on to win by a length and three-quarters.
Snow Lantern, who could have run in the Nassau Stakes over 10 furlongs later in the week, made up plenty of late ground to claim third; the same distance away, completing a one-two-three for the three-year-old’s against their elders.
Owner Jeff Smith and Jockey Murphy said about Alcohol Free
Winning owner Jeff Smith has enjoyed much success at the Qatar Goodwood Festival over the decades, most memorably with Chief Singer, who landed this race in 1984, Lochsong and Persian Punch.
Smith said: “I won my first Sussex Stakes 37 years ago – I had jet black hair and no worries in the world! I thought it was very easy and that I would come back and do it again.
“This filly is something else. The way she has won is simply incredible, I am thrilled to pieces. What a wonderful job Andrew and the whole team have done.
“It wasn’t so much the opposition; I was more concerned that we did not have a repeat of the Falmouth where she got left in the lead having broken too well. She needs to get cover and something to aim at.
“Then she got bumped around and pushed back, but then the way she picked up showed what she really is. She is a champion – there is no question in my mind.”
Murphy said: “I can’t thank everyone at Park House enough. Alcohol Free really can be a handful in the mornings. Cassia has to deal with her every day and deserves a medal because she can be really tough work.
“Anyone who follows me on Instagram will see that, when I go to tack her up, she looks like she is going to bite or kick me. Then when you get near her, she is quite the opposite. She is a special character.
“Alcohol Free is so, so talented and what a thrill I got from that. I’ve won this race before on Lightning Spear and last year it all went wrong on Kameko. Day to day, you have to just keep kicking.
“Alcohol Free thrives on racing, and she felt super on Saturday; we only went four furlongs, but I was full of confidence to be honest, particularly when the rain came.
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