By Duane Fonseca
British Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy timed his ride to perfection as Alcohol Free came up with a strong late flourish to beat the colts snatch a famous Group 1 Sussex Stakes success on the second day of the Glorious Goodwood Festival.
In winning, the 3yo daughter of No Nay Never clinched a third top tier success for Murphy and trainer Andrew Balding after winning the Coronation Stakes triumph over a mile at Royal Ascot in June. She had won last year’s 1200m Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, but has developed into a terrific miler and was narrowly denied in the Falmouth at Newmarket three weeks back when finishing third, three fourths of a length behind Snow Lantern.
Snow Lantern was also part of the lineup but could only manage third for trainer Richard Hannon under Jamie Spencer, a further length and three fourths in arrears behind favourite Poetic Flare, trained by Jim Bolger and ridden by Kevin Manning.
Century Dream under James Doyle dictated the pace and attempted to kick clear but started to fade 400m out after the chasing pack decided to up the ante. Manning and Poetic Flare hit the front on entering the final furlong, but the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes champion had his work cut out with Murphy putting pedal to the metal late on and Alcohol Free quickening massively to go past them and win by length and three quarters.
Alcohol Free’s owner Jeff Smith had last won the race in 1984 with Chief Singer. And he said: “This filly is something else, the way she has won that, it’s simply incredible.
“I’m thrilled to pieces, and what a wonderful job Andrew and the whole team have done. She’s a champion. There’s no question in my mind, she’s the real deal.”
Winning trainer Balding said: “It’s a privilege, it really is. Just watching her at home in the mornings is demoralising for the other horses, we have to keep swapping the lead horse because she’s just so good.
“She’s hardly blowing afterwards, it’s just effortless for her. I was awful (watching the race), I was calling Oisin all sorts of names! It was a rough race and I’m sure there were hard luck stories, but I think she was easily the best horse on the day.
“It’s just lovely to see her do that because we’ve always believed in her, it’s no easy task coming and taking on the colts and the older horses and to do it in that style is just fantastic.”
Alcohol Free could visit York next month, with Balding revealing: “We had a long debate yesterday, Mr Smith and I, about spending five grand of his hard-earned (money) keeping her in the Juddmonte (International).
“It’s a mile and a quarter, it’s a big ask, but as Jeff said she’s won Group Ones already. We’ve got nothing to prove, but it’s a possibility she may turn up there. She doesn’t need too much (training), she doesn’t even need training to be honest, she does it all herself.”
Elsewhere on the card, trainer Kevin Ryan and rider Daniel Tudhope combined to land the 1400m Group 3 Whispering Angel Oak Tree Stakes with outsider Last Empire, while Hannon and jockey Ryan Moore joined forces to win the 1000m Group 3 Molecomb Stakes with Armor.
Balding collected a double on the card after Rob Hornby’s success with Achelois in the Premier Fillies’ Handicap over 2000m.
Hannon too enjoyed a brace with Pat Dobbs bringing Magical Wish home first in the 1400m World Pool Handicap.
Tudhope too picked up a double as Illustrating justified favouritism to comfortably land the 1000m Fillies’ Condition Stakes for trainer Karl Burke. Roger Varian and David Egan were the other successful trainer rider combo on the card having nailed the 2400m handicap with Nagano.