Nassau nuggets: all you need to know as Stoute bids for record with Veracious
Qatar Nassau Stakes | 1m2f | Group 1 | 3yo+ fillies and mares | ITV/RUK
When Poet's Word defeated stablemate Crystal Ocean in Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes he was winning a race Sir Michael Stoute first claimed 37 years earlier.
When Veracious bids for Qatar Nassau Stakes glory she will be contesting a prize with which her trainer has an even longer history.
It was in 1977 that Stoute, then aged just 31, first took the Nassau, scoring with the Greville Starkey-ridden Triple First.
Many more wins have followed, including with the likes of Islington, Russian Rhythm and Kartajana, so many, in fact, that Stoute will equal Sir Henry Cecil's record of eight Nassau victories if Veracious is successful in the latest running.
She very well might be, given that on her belated seasonal reappearance she finished an excellent third to Alpha Centauri in the Coronation Stakes. With Frankie Dettori again on board, the daughter of Frankel steps up to a mile and a quarter as the least tested member of the field.
"We were very pleased with her at Ascot," said Stoute. "She is obviously very smart over a mile. We're now trying her over a mile and a quarter and I hope and think she'll be all right over that distance.
"If that is the case I think she'll run very well. I have been happy with her preparation."
Chris Richardson, managing director of owner-breeder Cheveley Park Stud, said: "On pedigree she should stay ten furlongs. If she does it would give us lots more options and would also mean we can avoid Alpha Centauri."
Pros If she can progress from her reappearance third in the Coronation - and she surely should - a big run must be likely
Cons Not yet shown she stays the trip and the bare form of her Ascot effort may not be good enough
O'Brien chasing fifth success
Aidan O'Brien has won the race four times with star fillies Peeping Fawn, Halfway To Heaven, Minding and most recently Winter a year ago, and Rhododendron, already a three-time winner at Group 1 level, attempts to join that select band.
Winner of the Fillies' Mile at two, she ran second in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks last year before her season was hindered when she bled badly in the Prix de Diane.
She bounced back to land the Prix de l'Opera at Chantilly in October and achieved her third Group 1 win in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May.
She failed to run to her best in the Queen Anne Stakes on her most recent start, finishing only ninth in the Royal Ascot event, and her trainer is hopeful of a better performance from the daughter of Galileo and the 2008 winner of the race Halfway To Heaven.
O'Brien said: "Rhododendron seems in good form and we think going back up to a mile and a quarter should suit her well.
"She's a proven Group 1 performer and we're hoping for a good run."
Pros Has won three Group 1s already and step back up in trip should be in her favour
Cons Below par last time and has to be taken on trust she is back in bloom, especially with stable under a bit of a cloud
Haggas hopes Fox can be fantastic again
It is fair to say Urban Fox did rather well on her first attempt at a mile and a quarter.
Upped in distance by William Haggas, who took over training the four-year-old only this season, Danny Tudhope's mount blossomed from her Royal Ascot fourth to take the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes in magnificent fashion.
Having travelled like a dream she pressed on from the top of the straight and routed a small but select field. Back in second was Oaks winner and subsequent Irish Oaks second Forever Together, while third home Athena went on to land a Grade 1 prize in America.
The style and substance of the performance suggests it was no fluke, a point on which Haggas would certainly agree.
"I really thought she would run well in the Pretty Polly," said Haggas.
"At Ascot over a mile the time before she proved she needed a step up in trip, getting tapped for toe at the wrong time before staying on well. She definitely thrived for the new trip at the Curragh, showing improved form and putting up a pretty sparkling display.
"We think she's in good form and the Nassau should tell us where we are."
Pros Wildly impressive in the Pretty Polly and a repeat of that form would make her hard to beat
Cons That Curragh win was her standout effort by a long way, while runner-up Forever Together was below her best
Godolphin chase second Nassau win with Wild
The Godolphin blue has only once been carried to victory in the Nassau. Now, 19 years on from Zahrat Dubai's victory under Gary Stevens, Wild Illusion bids to win the Group 1 showpiece for Sheikh Mohammed's operation.
Since bagging the Prix Marcel Boussac in October, Wild Illusion has failed to win, but nor has she run badly.
A fourth to Billesdon Brook in the 1,000 Guineas was followed by silver medal spots behind Forever Together in the Oaks and Magic Wand in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Those last two runs were over a mile and a half. Connections believe dropping down in distance will suit William Buick's mount.
"I think coming back two furlongs in trip is going to be ideal for her," said trainer Charlie Appleby.
"She’s already a Group 1 winner, and if she can maintain the high level of form displayed in her career to date she will be right there at the finish.
"She has progressed well from her races in June and has pleased me in her work."
Pros Oaks second gives her a major shout and she seems very dependable
Cons Beaten in all three of her races this year and so clearly beatable again
Marquand gets Group 1 chance on Brook
In the absence of the injured Sean Levey another key member of Richard Hannon's jockey team gets the chance to shine on 66-1 1,000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook, with former champion apprentice Tom Marquand coming in for the mount.
A number of higher-profile names would have been available to partner the dual Goodwood winner, but owners Jeanette McCreery and Pall Mall Partners have again opted to stay loyal and reward a member of the Hannon squad.
“Billesdon Brook has always been a lovely, straightforward filly and is the sort of horse that you turn up for every day to try to get the ride on," said Marquand, whose mount most recently took fourth in the Coronation Stakes, just under two lengths behind Veracious. She now tackles a mile and a quarter for the first time.
Marquand, speaking to British Champion Series, added: "The way she needs riding means the trip should not be an issue.
"She’s dropped in with cover, and it will just be a case of biding our time for a little bit longer. It should be left in our hands as to when we can flick the switch and put her alight."
Pros Loves Goodwood, possesses a turn of foot and overpriced
Cons Hard to know whether the Coronation fourth or Guineas win is a better reflection of her true ability
Meade hopes Wilamina can steal a place
Wilamina is the Nassau's outsider but she more than deserves her place in the line-up, having this year won at Group 3 level and twice finished second in Group 2 company.
"She is a lovely filly who is just touching on Group 1 class," said trainer Martyn Meade.
"It would be difficult to say she is going to win but if she can beat two or three of them it would be marvellous. It's not a vintage Nassau and tactically we can ride her how we want."
Meade added: "I don't think the trip will worry her and she has a decent turn of foot in her favour as well."
Pros Talented, uncomplicated and solid in Group races
Cons Needs to produce a big personal best to win
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