Qipco, sponsors of the Sussex Stakes, are doing all they can to entice the connections of Frankel and Black Caviar to race their horses against each other at Goodwood on 1 August. They have promised to increase the prize money for the race by over 200%, taking it up from last year’s £300,000 to a round £1 million.
But the early indications from Frankel’s quarters were that it would not change their thinking about this season’s targets. Although the plan is to campaign Frankel over a mile in the early part of the season, with Newbury’s Lockinge Stakes and then either the Queen Anne or the Prince of Wales at Ascot on the agenda.
But Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Frankel’s owner Khalid Abdullah explained they expected to be aiming him over further later in the season. “Depending upon how things develop, we are then considering going over a mile and a quarter for races such as the Eclipse and the Juddmonte, but there’s no need to be making those decisions yet. If we were to stay at a mile then running in the Sussex Stakes is a possibility, but I’m afraid the extra prize-money is not going to influence any decisions, even though it is a very generous gesture by QIPCO and Goodwood, and I can entirely understand why they would want to attract both horses.”
Peter Moody, Black Caviar’s trainer, was open to the idea of upping his horse in distance. Black Caviar has yet to race beyond seven furlongs, and is scheduled to run in the six furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot. But Moody told the Australian media recently, “I’m not sure if (meeting Frankel) will come off, but I’m quite bullish about it. I’m sure there will be plenty of overtures once we get to England and will look at them then.”
Goodwood’s managing director Adam Waterworth was hopeful that the would both take part in a race where anticipation could well exceed that for last years Sussex Stakes, when the race between Frankel and Canford Cliffs became known as “The Duel on the Downs.”
He said, “If Black Caviar is ever going to run over a mile, it might just be at an easy track like Goodwood. We realise that it may well not come off, but if Black Caviar and Frankel are going to cash anywhere, it could well be in this race and it would obviously be fantastic for us if they did so. There are some criticisms you can make about this kind of offer, but it’s not £1 million bonus, it’s an addition to the total prize money, so even the horses that finished third and fourth will be big winners. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think it could happen and if the additional prize-money makes any difference, then it will have been worth it. It would be the race of the year and probably the race of the decade.”
The next key date is at the end of May, when entries for the race close. If both Frankel and Black Caviar are amongst them, water worth will be delighted. But as Grimthorpe emphasised, his priority was to do the best thing for Frankel, and he recognised that Moody would have the same view about Black Caviar.