The Gurkha avenges previous loss to Galileo Gold with thrilling victory in Sussex Stakes

It was only Aidan O’Brien’s 18th winner on these shores this season, but the French 2,000 Guineas winner all but wrapped up the British trainers’ title for his Irish handler, reports Geoffrey Riddle.

Ryan Moore rides The Gurkha, in purple, to a win in the Qatar Sussex Stakes from Galileo Gold and Frankie Dettori, left, at Goodwood on July 27, 2016 in Chichester, England. lan Crowhurst/Getty Images
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Goodwood, England // It was a snapshot of the domination of British horse racing.

The sight of Coolmore’s The Gurkha edging out Al Shaqab’s Galileo Gold and Godolphin’s fast-finishing Ribchester in a thrilling Sussex Stakes on Wednesday encapsulates perfectly the current position of the three racing superpowers in the racing firmament.

The Gurkha, ridden by Ryan Moore, was only Aidan O’Brien’s 18th winner on these shores this season, but by avenging his defeat to Galileo Gold at Royal Ascot last month, the French 2,000 Guineas winner all but wrapped up the British trainers’ title for his Irish handler.

O’Brien has now amassed just over £4.5 million (Dh21.67m) in Britain this season, and is primed to make an assault on the £5,277,651 accumulated by John Gosden last year.

Looking at his stable of stars that landmark may well come sooner rather than later. O’Brien runs hot favourite Minding in the Nassau Stakes on Saturday, a race in which the English Guineas, Oaks and Pretty Polly Stakes winner will pick up £340,260 should she win.

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O’Brien has recent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Highland Reel ready to embark on his travels.

Found, his Breeders’ Cup Turf star, is waiting in the wings, too, while The Gurkha could return to France for either the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on August 14, or the Prix Moulin at Chantilly the following month.

In what could prove to be the next chapter of an enthralling rivalry Galileo Gold could take him on again there and all the way through to the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita.

“The horses are running really well and they are coming on,” O’Brien said. “The lads [owners Derrick Smith, John Magnier and Michael Tabor] will decide if The Gurkha needs to go back up in trip. He could go to France. He wouldn’t mind stepping up if the ground is fast and at a level track – he has lots of options.”

If O’Brien has got the horsepower purring at Ballydoyle, it is Moore who is doing the steering. Where The Gurkha gave Galileo Gold a taste of his own medicine on the Downs, Moore also served up a cold dish to Frankie Dettori on Galileo Gold, too.

Last month at Ascot, it was Dettori who got the better of Moore in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

None of the 10 jockeys wanted to do the running once the gates opened, however, and it fell to Dettori to lead the way.

Moore anchored The Gurkha on to the back of Galileo Gold and an easy trip in his slipstream.

At the business end Moore had to wait patiently for the gap to appear before he flew past and won by a neck, while Godolphin’s Ribchester came home under James Doyle third by a short head. O’Brien has now won the English 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Gold Cup, the Falmouth Stakes, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, while Al Shaqab have grabbed the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes with Galileo Gold and the Coronation Stakes with Qemah.

Godolphin have Hawkbill’s victory over The Gurkha in the Eclipse Stakes in May and Belardo’s Lockinge Stakes in the bag.

Their grip is tight, and there is all to play for.

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