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Injury may Rip up a thrilling script

Aidan O'Brien will make a late decision on Rip Van Winkle's participation in today’s BGC Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood after the colt suffered an 11th-hour setback.

The Ballydoyle team discovered a problem with the Galileo colt's hind hoof last night, with O'Brien due to check the area again this morning.

O'Brien remains hopeful that Rip Van Winkle, who finished second in the Coral-Eclipse behind Sea The Stars on his latest outing, will line up but underlined that his participation is in doubt.

He said: “We discovered that Rip Van Winkle had a slight problem with a hind hoof.

“We will check him out in the morning and it's possible that he will travel to Goodwood and a decision be made after he gets there,” he said.

Disquiet over the weather forecast here this afternoon is not confined to the reluctance of the British climate to decorate this most gorgeous of venues with the due lustre of high summer. It goes a lot deeper than that. For the untimely advent of heavy rain could well unravel what otherwise promises to be the race of the week.

In principle, the showdown between Rip Van Winkle and Ghanaati has the potential to reprise one of the very greatest races ever staged along this spur, high above the folding, fading valleys and forests.

In 1992, Marling and Selkirk shared a duel since evoked by any race that pits together a good colt and a better filly. Though the very best fillies tend to rely upon prosaic, masculine virtues, on that occasion Marling seemed to overcome brazen disadvantages against the brawn and bulk of Selkirk.

This time, sadly, the battle of the sexes could be reduced to a coarse test of efficacy in deteriorating ground. Ghanaati's brief but brilliant career has so far embraced just two starts on turf, both on extremely fast ground. Until she proves otherwise, can you assume that she is equally effective in easier conditions? Rip Van Winkle has at least offered some nugatory encouragement, first in a maiden on yielding ground at the Curragh last summer, and then in excelling on watered going in the Derby.

Perhaps we might be lucky. Perhaps some clement Channel breeze will hold the rainclouds at bay. If so, we should be rewarded by a memorable race.

Meanwhile, trainer Marcus Tregoning’s Finjaan yesterday collected in the highlight on day one of Glorious Goodwood, the Betfair Cup.

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