It was the battle of the sexes and the battle of the generations in the Cantor Odds Sussex Stakes at Goodwood this afternoon, and it was the older filly, Soviet Song, who achieved a resounding victory.
The conditions were perfect as all that is truly glorious about Goodwood came together in dazzling fashion today. The temperature rose on the sun-drenched Downs as the crowds awaited in anticipation the rematch between four-year-old filly Soviet Song and four-year-old colt Refuse to Bend, who had beaten her by a narrow margin in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot last month.
Since then, Soviet Song’s trainer has been labelled “the man who shot Bambi” for his part in Soviet Song’s defeat of the leading filly of the younger generation, the awesome Attraction.
Then, the older filly took the opportunity to emphasise her tremendous form this season with a dash to the finishing posts in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket earlier in July.
But while that victory was marred by the fact that she had beaten the nation’s darling, today she was heralded a true superstar.
The one-mile race got off to a relatively slow start, and it was not until the halfway mark that the pace picked up and the tactics began to take effect.
Jockey Johnny Murtagh held the only filly in the race well back in sixth until one furlong out, when Soviet Song pounced, repelling the challenge from the six-year-old Nayyir and the Italian 2,000 guineas winner La Vie dei Colori to take victory.
Murtagh was particularly thrilled by the filly’s achievment:
“She is the queen of the milers,” he said. I kicked her in the belly two furlongs out and she took over and, though Mick Kinane chased me hard on Nayyir all the way to the line, my filly just would not be denied.
“She is up there with the best milers I have ridden, but she knows she is good. She walks around as if she owns the place!” he added.
She is the first filly to win the race in nine years.
The edge was taken off the much longed-for thrilling battle of the greats, as favourite Refuse to Bend came in last, with 2000 Guineas winner Haafhd also out of the running. Both had been expected to make a competitive show today, but some considered that the edge had been taken off both of the colts’ performances in the delay before the race – Haafhd had thrown a plate and was reshod down at the start.
Cantor Odds Sussex Stakes results:
1. Soviet Song (Johnny Murtagh)
2. Nayyir (Mick Kinane)
3. La Vie dei Colori (Darryl Holland)