Churchill and Ribchester set for Sussex showdown


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Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes looks set to once again be billed as a ‘Duel on the Downs’ after Aidan O’Brien confirmed he’s going to run Churchill on August 2.

Winner of the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas, Churchill suffered a shock defeat last month in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth behind Barney Roy.

O’Brien had no desire to offer up excuses for that flat performance and says he has been happy with his colt since.

The £1m Sussex Stakes has provided some stunning generational clashes since Frankel took the measure of Canford Cliffs in 2011.

Richard Fahey’s Ribchester confirmed himself to be the leading older generation miler last month when he won the Queen Anne at Ascot and a potential blockbuster clash with Churchill is now on.

“Churchill’s good,” said O’Brien. “He’s come out of Ascot well and the plan is to go for the Sussex. I’m very happy with him and he’s been very well since Ascot.

“Nothing’s come to light, it was a very hot day in Ireland and in England and maybe it was a combination of the travel and the warm weather, but I don’t want to make excuses.

He seems in very good form.” Ribchester was third in the Sussex last year, just edged out in a close finish by The Gurkha and Galileo Gold.

Fahey is looking forward to another big day with his charge and he admits that Churchill will be a big threat.

“Maybe he was a bit disappointing last time, I’m sure Aidan was disappointed, but he’s a big threat and he gets the three-year-old allowance,” he said.

“As a small trainer in the north these are the sort of races you want to be involved in. He’s doing everything we want; every time I see him he just looks better and better.”

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