Champion trainer, Richard Hannon, was close to tears in the winners’ enclosure at Glorious Goodwood after seeing his high-class colt Toronado finally gain his revenge on arch-rival, Dawn Approach, in a sensational renewal of the Group 1 Qipco Sussex Stakes.
The clash between the two outstanding three-year-old milers had been built up by websites offering racing tips as ‘The Duel on the Downs’, and for once the action more than lived up to the hype.
Punters only had eyes for the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner, Dawn Approach (10/11f), trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, the Godolphin owned colt who had slammed Tornado in the first classic of the season before bouncing back from a dismal, bewildering effort in the Investec Derby to beat Toronado by just a nose in a stunning race at the royal meeting.
Overnight rain seemed to put off backers of Toronado who drifted out from 7/4 to 11/4 in the racing betting, while there was good support for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes winner Declaration of War, a very classy Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old who would also play his part in a memorable contest.
The race was run at a strong gallop with the pacemakers doing their job until Dawn Approach struck for home two furlongs out. Behind him, Declaration of War appeared to be biding his time, cruising in the hands of Joseph O’Brien, while still at the rear of the field was Richard Hughes, ice-cool on Toronado, but setting his mount what appeared a massive amount to do.
Having travelled strongly, Declaration of War was suddenly found wanting as Dawn Approach kept up a blistering gallop into the final furlong; at which point, Toronado was switched into the centre of track and began to power home. The result was still in doubt 75 yards out as Dawn Approach was not stopping, but Toronado found an extra gear near the finish and in the end triumphed a shade cosily by half-a-length, gaining the sweetest of revenges on the Irish star.
The prospect of the pair meeting once again this season – for a fourth time – in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (QEII) at Ascot in the autumn would put thousands of people on the gate, but for now it is Tornado and Richards Hannon and Hughes who have their moment of much deserved glory. Although, the biggest winner is the sport of horse racing itself.