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Glorious Goodwood - Nassau Stakes

The action on the Sussex Downs winds down with a terrific final day. Mark Rowntree, @uptheirons007, returns to profile the feature event of the card.

Nassau Stakes

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Saturday sees the fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood, with the feature contest being the Group 1 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares run over 1 mile, 1 furlong and 192 yards. The Group 1 contest which features a first prize of over £100,000 sees three year old fillies and mares carrying 8st 11lbs, with older fillies and mares carrying 9st 6lbs. The race has been landed by Midday for Sir Henry Cecil in each of the last three years. Other notable recent winners include Alexander Goldrun (2005) and Ouija Board (2006).

Analysis
Izzi Top, a thoroughly likeable filly who was third in the 2011 Oaks at Epsom heads the market after sustained progress during 2012 which has seen John Gosden’s and Helena Springfield’s filly remain undefeated during the season. Each of these successes has represented a significant step up in Grade – from her Group 3 success at Newmarket in May to her most recent success in Group 1 company in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Although successful at the Curragh, William Buick reported Izzi Top to be unsuited by the soft surface, and she’s most likely to be suited by the better surface at Goodwood. Clearly suited by the trip of 1m2f (based upon her win at the Curragh, and also her Group 2 success in the Middleton Stakes at York in May) everything looks in place for the winning run to continue.

Was represents Aidan O’Brien, and will be partnered by Ryan Moore. The three year old sprung a 20/1 surprise when landing the 2012 Oaks at Epsom in June, finishing two places in front of The Fugue, and seeing off better fancied stable companion Maybe. Under Seamie Heffernan, Was ran out a good winner of the blue riband event for three year old fillies, although William Buick felt that The Fugue was somewhat unfortunate to finish only third after being hampered early in the race. The Fugue reopposes in Saturday’s contest, but will be ridden by Richard Hughes, with Buick opting to ride Izzi Top. The Fugue had waltzed to the fore of the Oaks betting with an imperious success in York’s Musidora in early May. Subsequently, since the Oaks, she’s finished a well held second to Princess Highway in The Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot in June on a Good to Soft surface. Given the fact that Was has been subsequently a shade disappointing when only fourth to the highly progressive Gosden filly Great Heavens over 1m4f in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh, one may expect The Fugue to come out best of the three year olds in the Nassau, and reverse the Epsom form with Was. However, it is clear that both three year olds will face their sternest tests to date against the older, stronger fillies at Goodwood.

Lay Time is a nice 4yo Galileo filly trained by Andrew Balding. Although she’s bred to get ten furlongs, most of her racing has been over shorter trips. Her last two starts have seen her run over a mile when eighth of ten to the French filly Giofra in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, and when third of eight to Joviality and this weeks Glorious Goodwood winner Chacamaidee in the Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot. Her form at Epsom in early June also suggests that she has a little to find with Clinical. Clinical, a three time winner in late 2011 including in Germany, landed the 9 furlong Princess Elizabeth Stakes beating subsequent Royal Ascot winner Joviality, with Lay Time back in fifth place. However, it should be noted that Sir Mark Prescott’s 4yo grey Motivator filly (Clinical) did subsequently finish behind Lay Time in the Windsor Forest. In truth, the pair are probably both looking for places at best on Saturday and need to prove their stamina over ten furlongs.

The globetrotting Nahrain represents Roger Varian and Neil Callan ahead of a mid summer/late season campaign. The filly landed the Qatar Prix de L’Opera at Longchamp in October by the narrowest of margins (a nose) from Announce. Victory in this contest qualified Nahrain for a crack at the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf at November’s Churchill Downs Breeders Cup carnival. The filly ran a tremendous race when finishing second to Canadian outsider Perfect Shirley. Given her relatively extended three year old campaign, she has been given time to get over these exertions, and most probably needed the run on her reappearance when only ninth of thirteen in the aforementioned Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot. Given her thoroughly progressive profile in 2011, it would be a major surprise not to see a much better run in the Nassau Stakes. However, at the forecast odds of 7/2 she has wellbeing to prove – a comment that doesn’t apply to the Gosden pair.

Timepiece has won five races from seventeen starts under Sir Henry Cecil for Khalid Abdullah. The 5yo has an unenviable task in following in Midday’s hoof prints. However she’s an admirable mare who has performed well at a range of trips between eight and eleven furlongs, but based upon her below par run in the Middleton at York, she has plenty to find with the younger and improving Izzi Top.

Sea of Heartbreak has competed at a high level for a few years now and always performs with credit. However, at Group 1 level, she’s a little out of her depth, and at the age of five, she’s not going to improve dramatically in order to take a hand here. It would be nice to see Roger Charlton find a nice Group 2 or 3 contest for her later this season.

Verdict
An intriguing renewal of the Nassau Stakes. The thoroughly progressive Izzi Top looks ideally suited by both ground and trip to plunder another valuable Group 1 prize. Coming just over a month since her success in the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh the timing of the race looks ideal for her, and it remains highly significant that William Buick has opted to ride her in preference to The Fugue. The Fugue may compete a 1-2 for the all conquering John Gosden yard, and will probably reverse the Oaks placings with Aidan O’Brien’s Was. Both The Fugue and Was are lightly raced three year olds and have absolutely no stamina doubts given their strong form over 12 furlongs. Additionally, both horses should also be suited by a faster surface – especially Was, who found the ground at The Curragh a shade too testing recently.

Read more of Mark's excellent analysis on his blog

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