07/29/2002 12:00AM

Rock of Gibraltar heads Sussex


Rock of Gibraltar will take dead aim at his sixth consecutive Group 1 victory at Goodwood on Wednesday when he faces five rivals in the Sussex Stakes, the first of four weight-for-age miles that determine the European challenge for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Since two of his foes are expected to be his Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate pacesetters Shoal Creek and Sahara Desert, Rock of Gibraltar will have to concern himself primarily with Noverre and No Excuse Needed. They finished one-two in last year's Sussex Stakes, but Noverre has not won since. No Excuse Needed was a narrow winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot but would have to improve considerably to win this.

Rated Europe's leading miler, Rock of Gibraltar will be ridden by Michael Kinane. Should he take the Sussex, he would tie Mill Reef's European record of six straight Group 1 triumphs in 1971-1972.