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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Superstar fillies assemble for a depleted but thrilling Nassau

Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore bid for more Group 1 glory with Winter
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With the aim of promoting sporting participation among women, Sport England has adopted the slogan 'This Girl Can'.

Look at the field for the Qatar Nassau Stakes and it's obvious these girls can, and indeed have, on a regular basis.

Now, though, in what could turn out to be the most enthralling race of Glorious Goodwood, only one girl can – and that girl will need to be very good indeed. She will also need to handle ground turned desperately soft by the Wednesday rain.

On ladies' day, a fine but sadly depleted collection of wonderfully talented ladies will come together for what used to be Saturday's most prestigious prize but now moves forward in the week. In some ways that could be perceived as a good thing as this is a Nassau that simply cannot come soon enough.

It is a mouthwatering thriller that brings together Winter, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, Irish 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes, Breeders' Cup heroine Queen's Trust, John Gosden's So Mi Dar and Godolphin's mud-loving Group 1 winner Sobetsu.

Indeed, it is a measure of the contest's quality – even allowing for the defections of Shutter Speed, Nezwaah and Wuheida – that Blond Me and Hydrangea, both extremely talented, are big outsiders.

A new sort of test for Winter

Justifiably heading bookmaker lists is Winter, representing the connections that struck 12 months ago with Minding.

From winning at Newmarket as Ballydoyle's second string, the daughter of Galileo has shown herself to be nobody's number two, posting two more authoritative triumphs at the highest level, most recently at Royal Ascot. 

This represents her first attempt at ten furlongs and also her first encounter with older rivals. It will also be her first encounter with ground akin to a swamp.

Time will tell if the Nassau field, down to six from nine at the time of writing, is reduced further. Winter's Irish 1,000 Guineas victory came on a yielding track. This will be altogether different and surely not ideal for So Mi Dar, who returns to action after 305 days.

Her rider, Frankie Dettori, was on the back of Queen's Trust when she triumphed at Santa Anita. Circumstances have partly dictated Sir Michael Stoute needing to use four different jockeys for her last four races. The lucky man on Nassau day is Jim Crowley, Stoute's go-to rider for Ulysses and the hero of Wednesday's Sussex Stakes.

Meehan and Beckett chase repeat wins

Chief supporting contest is the Qatar Richmond Stakes, which has assembled the July Stakes one-two, Cardsharp and US Navy Flag, and Coventry Stakes second Headway.

This, however, is also a race that has treated Brian Meehan kindly over the years. He tries to win it for the third time with easy Chepstow winner Barraquero, a rare big-race runner these days to carry the old Robert Sangster silks.

Far from rare are big-race runners for Ralph Beckett, who mounts a quadruple challenge in the Group 3 Markel Insurance Lillie Langtry Stakes he took with subsequent St Leger winner Simple Verse in 2015.

Of his four candidates, Melodic Motion, like Simple Verse owned by Qatar Racing, holds an entry in the Doncaster Classic.

Goodwood card and form

On ladies' day a collection of wonderfully talented ladies will come together for what used to be Saturday's most prestigious prize

Key data

Winter A P O'Brien
E.W. Terms
Sky bet