Unbeaten Siskin faces biggest challenge yet in Sussex Stakes thriller

Ger Lyons’s star lines up against selection of elite miler talent in Goodwood highlight

 Colin Keane onboard Siskin comes home to win ahead of Seamus Heffernan onboard Lope Y Fernandez in The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh Racecourse last month. Photograph: Caroline Norris/Inpho

Colin Keane onboard Siskin comes home to win ahead of Seamus Heffernan onboard Lope Y Fernandez in The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh Racecourse last month. Photograph: Caroline Norris/Inpho

 

The Qatar Sussex Stakes can be billed as both a clash of the Guineas winners and of the generations but might ultimately justify billing as the race of the season.

That’s the intriguing context of Wednesday’s Goodwood highlight in which the stakes are truly Group One.

Jockey Colin Keane is prepared to swap a 14-day isolation period on his return to Ireland in order to try to maintain Siskin’s unbeaten record.

Ger Lyons’s star hasn’t run since landing the Irish Guineas and faces the biggest task of his career against a selection of elite miler talent.

The English Guineas winner Kameko is back at a mile after a fruitless tilt at the Derby while the Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus heads a trio of Aidan O’Brien runners that also includes Wichita and Vatican City.

If the older horse Mohaather still represents something of an unknown quantity then it adds to perhaps the most fascinating contest of this revamped unique season.

Coronavirus regulations

Keane will team up with the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Steel Bull in the earlier Group Three Molecomb Stakes but after Siskin faces a quarantine period on the sidelines due to coronavirus regulations here.

“It’s not ideal but I might not get to ride the likes of Siskin for another while. He’s definitely the best horse I’ve ridden and it’ll be worth it, I hope,” he said.

Nevertheless Lyons is convinced Siskin will have to step up on what he has shown to date against the best opposition he has faced so far.

“The form of the Irish Guineas has been ripped apart by the experts,” Lyons commented on Tuesday.

“On ratings we have to improve, it’s as simple as that. We think he has but we won’t know until he runs. He has to improve to even get close to some of these horses,” he added.

The Gurkha in 2016 was the last of five winners O’Brien has had in the Sussex.

It’s a list that also includes flamboyant milers such as Henrythenavigator and Rip Van Winkle.

Circus Maximus in contrast appears to have more in common with the 2000 Sussex hero Giants Causeway who was famous for a more grinding style.

“He will only ever just win. Ryan [Moore] will tell you, that’s the way he is. He’s a very sold miler and a very tough but lazy horse,” O’Brien said. “At home he’d do the same thing, no matter what you work with him, so we don’t really know what his limit is.”

Goodwood is a notoriously tricky track capable of throwing up frustrating “what if” scenarios at times. But this looks a Sussex Stakes with the potential to reveal the limits of all concerned.

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