Photo: Steven Cargill
Toronado finally turned back his old adversary Dawn Approach as he thrust his neck in front for a smooth and impressive Group 1 victory in the Sussex Stakes.
Twice before the duo of Dawn Approach and Toronado had lined up in battle and twice before it was the Irish challenger that had reigned supreme, but with Toronado significantly reducing the defecit at Royal Ascot hopes were high in the Richard Hannon camp that their star colt may finally turn the tables at a track which has graciously been kind to the team over the years.
Billed as the 'Duel of the Downs', the race provided an exceptional mid-season climax for a Classic division that, Dawn Approach aside, has suffered through inconsistency of its competitors. On Wednesday the hopes and dreams of the Hannon team finally came true as the comeback king finally dethroned the Champion Elect.
"They are two top class horses. I told Hughsie to drop in, it was the only thing he could do from that draw," said Richard Hannon. "It was looking difficult two furlongs out but our horse has a hell of a turn of foot. Hughsie rode him four or fice days ago and said he was the best he'd every ridden. We'll see how he comes out of this, but the Jacques Le Marois and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes are the obvious races. He'll stick to a mile this year but he'll stay in training next season where perhaps he could step up to ten furlongs at some point."
Richard Hughes had long claimed that Toronado was the best horse he had ever ridden, a bold statement from a jockey whom has partnered the likes of Canford Cliffs to a string of exceptional performances in victory, and on the glorious downs of Chichester Hughes was finally proved right.
"He's proven he's a brilliant horse. My plan was 'wide, fast and late' and it worked. I didn’t want to get into a battle with Dawn Approach so I wanted to get there late and fast," said Richard Hughes, a jockey who contines to ride the Goodwood track with utter perfection and has a total of four wins at the Glorious Goodwood meeting thus far. "On things like Twitter you can get slagged off, but I love my horses. I hate it when people slag them off and Lizzie [Hughes - wife] knows how much I think of this horse. There was a lot of pressure on today as there were no excuses if he got beat today. I thought his reputation would be ruined if he didn't win today, so there was a lot riding on it."
The performance of Toronado in this season's opening showpiece was but a blip on the progression radar of the son of High Chaparral who cast his line to reel in the phenomenal presence of Dawn Approach after the latter's scintillating English 2,000 Guineas victory. Now, as the season passes its mid-season point, the rivals stand side by side in battle.
A year after the presence of Frankel had captured a nation, the rivalry of Dawn Approach and Toronado is one which British racing can enjoy as the duo of rivals take dead aim on the QIPCO British Champions Day for the ultimate end of season battle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, a race which will formerly crown the champion once and for all.