Sun Maiden will seek to give owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah another success to savour in the £600,000 Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Thursday, a race that forms part of the Fillies & Mares category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Prince Khalid’s famous pink, green and white silks were carried to victory by Enable in a compelling King George & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot last Saturday and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sun Maiden, while not in her league, is bred to thrive on the Downs.
Her sire, Frankel, won two editions of the Sussex Stakes and her half-sister, Midday, landed a record three renewals of the Nassau Stakes between 2009-2011. Another of her half-sisters, Hot Snap, was also third in the 2013 renewal of the Nassau.
Making reference to her Goodwood-laden pedigree, Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Prince Khalid, said with a smile: “Unfortunately they don’t give you a prize for that. Michael [Stoute] and his team have done great work on her as she was a little bit hormonal last year. It seems they have got her into a good rhythm and she’s progressed really well.
“She won a nice Listed race at Nottingham and then won a Group 3 at Newcastle last time, when the race was not run ideally run to suit her. The Tapeta was pretty heavy that day but she did it nicely enough and she deserves a crack at a big one. She’s a nice big, scopey filly. It looks a pretty hot race but she’s been going nicely at home and given us plenty of encouragement to go here.”
Sun Maiden finished third in last year’s Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot but then trailed home a distant last of four in the Qatar Gordon Stakes at Goodwood. “She ran no sort of race that day but hopefully we’ve got her back in a good place. I certainly would not say it was the track.
Future entries for her include the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, over another couple of furlongs, at York next month. “We’ve looked at trip a few times and she ran a blinder in the Ribblesdale last year. I wouldn’t rule it out in the future [going up in distance] but jockeys have got off her and said she has enough good speed for the mile and the quarter.”
Her eight opponents are headed by Hermosa, winner of the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas before finishing runner-up to Watch Me in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on her latest start. The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly, who seeks to provide her trainer with a fifth victory in the race, will be having her first start beyond a mile and will be joined in in the line-up by stablemate Just Wonderful, runner-up in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes in America on her latest start.
Francis Graffard, the trainer of Watch Me, is this time represented by Channel, who won the Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks) at Chantilly last month. Further international flavour is added by Deirdre, a Grade 1 winner in her native Japan but unable to make an impact in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.
John Gosden landed three successive renewals of the Nassau between 2012 and 2014 and is this time represented byMehdaayih. She was only seventh when favourite for the Investec Oaks at Epsom last month, when not getting the rub of the green, but put that behind her when winning a Group 2 prize in France last time.
Maqsad finished a place behind Mehdaayih in the Oaks, with her connections inclined to believe she was betrayed by a lack of stamina. She had previously routed her rivals in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket over a mile and a quarter and reverts to that distance on Thursday.
Rawdaa, a stablemate of Sun Maiden, put up a career-best effort last time when runner-up to Move Swiftly in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot. She had Nyaleti, who she meets again, well adrift that day.