Lightning strikes for first Gr. 1 in Sussex

The extremely popular Lightning Spear landed his first Gr. 1 at the age of 7 in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.

Qatar Racing celebrated it's second Gr. 1 win in the space of four weeks when Lightning Spear won a deserved first Gr. 1 in the seven-runner Sussex, bursting through a gap late on to score by a comfortable length and a half from runaway Jersey Stakes winner Expert Eye.

With no obvious front runner, the early pace was always likely to be steady and Oisin Murphy had Lightning Spear posited in fourth, just a couple of lengths off the sedate gallop set by favourite Without Parole. Lightning Spear settled beautifully and was still on the bridle when Without Parole began to crack at the two-furlong marker.

Lightning Spear raced in Beat The Bank's slipstream and after it briefly looking like the gap may not come, he squeezed between that rival and Expert Eye with 100 yards to go and quickly put daylight between himself and the rest. Lightning Spear had such a cushion that his rider was even able to celebrate crossing the line.

After the race, Oisin said: "I never ever get nervous before Gr. 1s, but I was nervous today and was trying to hide it down at the start. He's deserved to win a major Gr. 1.

"He loves travelling behind heels and I was sure Expert Eye was going to fade away at some stage.

"What a horse, what a training performance. At seven years of age, outstanding."

Lightning Spear's trainer David Simcock said: "He's done very little wrong apart from win a Gr. 1, until now. He's a lovely horse to train. He's been placed in six Gr. 1s and has never really let us down.

"That was the horse we see at home all the time, it's just getting it to click (on a racecourse). I'm more pleased for the horse than anybody.

"For the horse to get his nose in front in a Gr. 1 like that, it's great."

Lightning Spear has now raced in 16 Gr. 1 races and is a very special horse for Qatar Racing, those who look after him at Trillium Place and his rider. Well done team!