November 30, 2023

Alcohol Free strongly beats the boys in Sussex

Alcohol Free wins the Sussex Stakes (Photo Courtesy Goodwood Racecourse)

In a battle between the winners of Royal Ascot’s premier mile races for three-year-olds in Wednesday’s Sussex S. (G1) at Goodwood, it was the filly Coronation (G1) heroine Alcohol Free who pulled off a mild surprise over her colt counterpart, St James’s Palace (G1) victor Poetic Flare, in the “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) prep.

The 7-2 second choice both overseas and in the worldwide pari-mutuel pool, Alcohol Free smoothly advanced from midpack into second racing down the long straight. Providing jockey Oisin Murphy with a kick stronger than Poetic Flare could counter with, Alcohol Free drew off late to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Owned by Jeff Smith and trained by Andrew Balding, Alcohol Free covered the mile on soft ground in 1:42.83. She returned $9.80 and is the first filly winner of the Sussex since Soviet Song in 2004.

“It’s just lovely to see her do that because we’ve always believed in her,” Balding said. “It’s no easy task coming and taking on the colts and the older horses and to do it in that style is just fantastic.”

Poetic Flare, who started 11-8 overseas but was more heavily backed on the tote at 4-5, finished second by 1 3/4 lengths over Snow Lantern, the Coronation runner-up who in the interim had defeated Alcohol Free in the Falmouth (G1) at Newmarket.

“I felt he was spinning on the ground and going up and down on one spot, though to give him credit he dug very deep and fought back when the filly went past him,” said jockey Kevin Manning about Poetic Flare, who also captured the 2000 Guineas (G1) in May. “The ground was tacky and holding, and there was no bounce in it.”

Duhail fared best of the older horses in the Sussex, finishing fourth. He was followed by 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order of Australia, Space Traveller, Lope Y Fernandez, Century Dream, and Tilsit.

This was the third win in five starts this season for Alcohol Free, who preceded her 1 1/2-length win in the Coronation with a head triumph in the Fred Darling (G3) at Newbury and a fifth in the 1000 Guineas (G1), where she was beaten two lengths by Mother Earth. Alcohol Free was exiting a third in the Falmouth, where she finished less than a length behind Snow Lantern and Mother Earth.

Alcohol Free raced three times at two. Winning on debut at Newbury, she was beaten less than a length in the Dick Poole (G3) at Salisbury next out, and then captured the six-furlong Cheveley Park (G1) at Newmarket by a half-length.

Balding said Alcohol Free could stretch out over 1 1/4 miles in the Aug. 18 Juddmonte International (G1) at York. That race is a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) prep race.

Bred in Ireland, Alcohol Free is by No Nay Never and out of Plying, by Hard Spun.