Solow hits the heights at Qatar Sussex Stakes

Solow, ridden by Maxime Guyon, on his way to winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes during day two of Glorious Goodwood.  Picture: PA
Solow, ridden by Maxime Guyon, on his way to winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes during day two of Glorious Goodwood. Picture: PA
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Freddy Head has been lucky enough to have trained some of the best milers of recent years and Solow is rapidly heading towards the top of the list after taking his unbeaten run to eight in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

The amiable French handler has guided Goldikova, Moonlight Cloud and Charm Spirit to multiple Group One victories but the progress of Solow, since finishing sixth over nearly two miles just over a year ago, has been nothing short of startling.

He came to real prominence with a wide-margin win in Dubai and, while subsequent victories in the Prix d’Ispahan and Queen Anne Stakes proved that was no fluke, he was supposed to have his mettle tested against dual Guineas winner Gleneagles on the Downs.

However, come Monday morning and declaration time Aidan O’Brien had withdrawn his three-year-old due to rain at the weekend, a decision which looked more baffling with each drying hour, although the Ballydoyle trainer insisted he had no regrets.

Maxime Guyon kept things simple, tracking Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Arod, and the two had it between them throughout.

In fairness to the runner-up he made Solow battle for the victory, but there was a cosy half-length between them at the line. Rank outsider Gabrial ran an excellent race to finish third, with Lockinge hero Night Of Thunder slightly disappointing.

Head said: “He’s great. He didn’t have the best of runs, always in the open and seeing a bit of daylight. He is getting a bit lazy with age, too, but he does exactly what he needs to.

“It wasn’t a very fast-run race and they kind of sprinted, too, so there was no way you could win by any kind of distance, but he is a hell of a horse. It’s amazing. He’s kind and you can put him anywhere.

“He was always well balanced and never had any trouble with the ups and downs.

“Maxime rides him very well, he’s very confident. He’s a great rider for his young age.

“I love coming to England and I like to go abroad, to go to America for the top-class races. If you have a top-class horse that is what you should do – you train for that.

“Maxime said he was always going to win but I was a little worried.

“It is nerve-wracking sending a horse to the races with a string of ones next to his name as you know one day it will stop.

“His next race will be the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.”

Today, Quest For More can make the switch from handicap winner to Group Two victor with aplomb in the Qatar Goodwood Cup, the highlight on day three of the Glorious meeting.

To call Roger Charlton’s charge merely a handicap winner is perhaps a disservice to him as his most recent success came in one of the most keenly-contested staying events of the season, the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle. The two-mile heat is a classy affair nowadays with 2005 winner Sergeant Cecil memorably building on his win to eventually claim Group One gold in France.

While Quest For More has some way to go to match that, his length-and-a-quarter win at Newcastle off a mark of 104 certainly suggested he could be capable of making his mark at this kind of level. And his subsequent 5lb rise puts him in the mix on the ratings. Another positive for the five-year-old is that he won over a mile and six furlongs at Goodwood earlier in the campaign, so the Downs will hold few surprises for him when it could catch out a couple of his rivals.