O’Brien’s star filly set for £600,000 Nassau showdown at Goodwood

Minding wins the 1000 Guineas / Picture by Mark Westley

Minding wins the 1000 Guineas / Picture by Mark Westley

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Star three-year-old filly Minding headlines 10 confirmations for the £600,000 Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes.

The 3.10pm contest on Saturday is Europe’s most valuable race for fillies and mares and the highlight of a seven-race card at Goodwood on the fifth and final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The Galileo filly already has five Group 1s under her belt, including Classic triumphs this year in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs, and last time gained an easy victory in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on June 26.

Her trainer Aidan O’Brien, chasing a third success in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, has also left in fellow Group One scorers Alice Springs and Ballydoyle.

Sir Michael Stoute is out to match the late Sir Henry Cecil’s record of eight victories in Qatar Nassau Stakes with potential improver Queen’s Trust. The three-year-old was hampered on her reappearance when fourth in a 10-furlong Listed race at Newbury and flew home to fill the same position in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Chris Richardson, racing manager for owner Cheveley Park Stud, commented today: “The plan is to run Queen’s Trust in the Qatar Nassau Stakes. She is an improving filly and we feel that she has been a bit unlucky so far.

Sir Michael is adamant that she should be competing at the top level and, whilst I appreciate Minding might be an impossible filly to beat, if you are not in you cannot win.

“Sir Michael is adamant that she should be competing at the top level and, whilst I appreciate Minding might be an impossible filly to beat, if you are not in you cannot win.

“I don’t think the drop back in trip will be a problem. The family were specialists over 10 furlongs and, although she looked better the further she went at Ascot, she has got a turn of foot.”

Another Newmarket trainer, John Gosden, has won three of the last four runnings of the Qatar Nassau Stakes and could saddle Swiss Range. The Khalid Abdullah homebred announced herself with a pair of impressive victories at Newmarket in the spring but could only finish eighth in the French Oaks last time out.

Other Qatar Nassau Stakes entries include French challenger Jemayel (Jean Claude Rouget), winner of the Group One Prix Saint Alary in May, plus Hawksmoor (Hugo Palmer) and Beautiful Romance (Saeed bin Suroor) who have both captured Group Two prizes this season. Course scorers Bateel and Carnachy (both David Simcock) complete the potential field.

The feature heritage handicap of the meeting is the £250,000 Qatar Stewards’ Cup (3.45pm) over six furlongs. Dandy Nicholls has taken the spoils three times since the turn of the century and is responsible for warm favourite Orion’s Bow and Kimberella.

Orion’s Bow is chasing a six-timer following wins in valuable handicaps at Newcastle and Hamilton, while Kimberella captured the Sky Bet Dash at York on Saturday (July 23).

The 86 acceptors also feature top-weight Brando (Kevin Ryan), three-year-old Dancing Star (Andrew Balding), winner of a valuable six-furlong handicap at Newmarket last time out, and last year’s runner-up Toofi (Robert Cowell). A maximum field of 28 can go to post.

There is more quality handicap action courtesy of the £75,000 Qatar Handicap (2.35pm) over 12 furlongs, won last year by subsequent Group Two Hardwicke Stakes victor Dartmouth.

The 26 entries feature a string of unexposed three-year-olds, including the Saeed bin Suroor-trained pair of Move Up and Huge Future, plus Manjaam (Ed Dunlop), Shabbah (Sir Michael Stoute) and Dal Harraild (William Haggas) who filled the first three places in a similar contest at Ascot on July 9.

The Group 1 Qatar International Stakes for Purebred Arabians (5.30pm), with prize money of £400,000, is run for the second time at Goodwood on Saturday and again is the first leg of the Doha Triple Crown.

Racing on Saturday gets under way at 2pm and concludes at 6pm.

New Record

A total of 1,173 Thoroughbred entries were confirmed or made at the six-day or five-day stages for the five days of the 2016 Qatar Goodwood Festival - a new record number.

Seamus Buckley, Clerk of the Course at Goodwood, commented today: “I cannot recall having so many entries for the Qatar Goodwood Festival before and this is my 22nd year here.

“Qatar’s huge injection of prize money, which started last year, has made the five-day meeting known as Glorious Goodwood more popular with owners and trainers than ever before.”

Going News

Straight Course - Good

Round Course - Good to Firm, Good in places

GoingStick Reading: 8.1 at 3pm (8.2 Saturday & 8.5 Tuesday)

Seamus Buckley, the Goodwood Clerk of the Course, said this afternoon at 3.30pm: “I am delighted that we have been able to maintain the going descriptions by watering and it will be wonderful ground for tomorrow’s first day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

“We will be watering again this evening on selected areas, such as the main bends.”

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