The Sussex Stakes is one of the feature races of the five-day Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse in Sussex. The Festival is held annually in late July or early August. This race provides the first opportunity of the season for three-year-old milers to compete against their older counterparts and is considered the most prestigious event of the year at Goodwood with a prize of £1 million attracting a high-quality field each year.
The Sussex Stakes is held at the Goodwood Racecourse, which is right-handed, over the distance of eight furlongs. The first seven furlongs are slightly downhill followed by a bit of a climb for the remaining distance greatly testing the endurance of the horses. It requires the horses to make a right-turn before entering the home straight.
The Sussex Stakes is open to group 1 thoroughbreds of both genders aged three or older. The weight requirement varies with three-year-olds carrying 9 stones-8 pounds and four-year-olds carrying 9st-1lb with a three-pound allowance given to females of each age group.
grade: Group 1
race type: Flat race
The Sussex Stakes is run over a distance of one mile, however, this has not always been the case. When it was introduced in 1841 by Lord George Bentinck, it was marketed as a six furlong event for two-year-old thoroughbreds. It couldn't seem to gain any real kind of attention and was uncontested 25 times with 14 overs.
This changed dramatically in 1878 when the distance was extended to one mile, and the minimum entry age was changed to three years. This was mainly a move to establish the Sussex Stakes as a prestigious race in its own right, and its status did rise when Paradox competed and won in 1885 after taking the 2000 Guineas earlier that same year.
The Goodwood Cup and Stewards’ Cup were at this time the 'big' races held at Goodwood Racecourse, and the Sussex Stakes was being primed as the next feature event. The new version of the race won popularity very quickly, thus becoming one of the most anticipated races at the course. In 1960, the race rules were amended to include four-year-old thoroughbreds, and five-year-olds were allowed to race in 1975.
Since the race changed from a sprint to a mile and gained recognition from the racing world, some of the best milers in the history of horseracing have given record setting performances. Below are a few of the current record holders (as of 2017) .
Only one horse can claim to have won more than one Sussex Stakes race in his career, and that is Frankel in 2011 and 2012.
Sir Gordon Richards won the Sussex Stakes eight times from Marconigram in 1928 to Agitator in 1952 making him the most successful jockey in the race's history.
The most successful trainer is Sir Henry Cecil who won seven times from Bolkonski in 1975 to Frankel in 2011 and 2012.
Excluding the years before the race became eight furlongs in length, the horse with the fastest time (1m:35.66sec) is Aljabr (1999).
Both Frankel (2011, 2012) and Krakatao (1949) hold the record for winning by the largest margin of six lengths.
The 2017 winner, Here Comes When, is the oldest horse to ever win the Sussex Stakes.
The record holder for being the longest-priced winner is Reel Buddy (2003) with 20/1 odds.
The record holder for the shortest-priced winner is Frankel (2012) at 1/20.
The Sussex Stakes has hosted racing greats including Petite Etoile (1959), Brigadier Gerard (1971), Kris (1979), Giant's Causeway (2000), Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), and Frankel (2011, 2012) (as of 2017) .
Canford Cliffs won the 2010 race and was the top-rated three-year-old miler throughout both England and Ireland that year. In addition to the Sussex Stakes, he also took the Irish 2000 Guineas and St. James's Palace Stakes that year.
Frankel is considered the best horse of his generation with 14 wins from 14 starts. He is also the only thoroughbred to have won the Sussex Stakes multiple times. He won in 2011 and again in 2012 for the 12th win of his career.
Kris gave an impressive performance at the 1979 Sussex Stakes. He was a strong thoroughbred with a career record of 14 wins from 16 starts.
The great Brigadier Gerard won 17 of 18 starts including the 1971 Sussex Stakes.
Petite Etoile is one of the best female thoroughbreds to win the race. The Sussex Stakes was just one of several prestigious races that she dominated in 1959 including the 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks and Champion Stakes. Other notable fillies that won both the 1000 Guineas and Sussex Stakes in the same year include On The House in 1982 and Humble Duty in 1970.