Trainer Andrew Balding’s season was already shaping up to be one of his best but Alcohol Free took it to yet another level when winning Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes from 2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare.
It was a third Group One win for Alcohol Free as she’d won the Cheveley Park Stakes at two and had won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier this season. Since then she was only third in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting but the firmer ground that day may have been against her and, back on a more testing surface, she turned the tables on her conqueror that day, Snow Lantern.
In the race itself Alcohol Free was drawn wide and quickly found herself wider still after a furlong when forced out by Tilsit, who was trying to make a forward move. Jockey Oisin Murphy sat still and took the Jeff Smith owned filly back to sit in mid-division while her main rival, Poetic Flare enjoyed a trouble-free run just behind the leaders.
Heading into the straight and towards the final two furlongs Murphy took his mount widest of all the runners as Kevin Manning set Poetic Flare for home. Poetic Flare had been under urging from his jockey from some way out and Alcohol Free gradually reeled him in, passing him at the furlong pole and going gradually clear to win by a length and three quarters at the finish.
Snow Lantern was the unlucky horse having been denied a clear run after meeting trouble in running but she never looked likely to get on terms, finishing third in the end.
Winning trainer Andrew Balding was quick to heap praise on his fully saying she’d caught his eye early. “She’s looked very good from the beginning, right from the first bit of work,” he said, adding “we worked her once and said oh, we’d better run her and she went to Newbury and absolutely hosed up.”
He admitted to some trepidation in taking on a horse of Poetic Flare’s ability but felt that his filly was up to it, “On her day this filly is as good as any of them.”
Jockey Oisin Murphy suggested that Alcohol Free can be difficult at times at home and thanked the team back at the yard for their handling of the horse. “I can’t thank everyone at Park House enough. She really can be a handful in the mornings but she’s so, so talented and what a thrill I got from that.
Next up for Alcohol Free may be a step up to 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International at York with Paddy Power (Sportsbet) quoting her at 20/1 for that race.
Poetic Flare’s jockey Kevin Manning felt his colt struggled on the rain softened ground, “I was spinning on the ground, up and down on the same spot” he said after the race.
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