Is Urban Fox the one to chase in Goodwood's Nassau Stakes?
Veracious is to step up in trip and take on Urban Fox in the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, the highlight of Ladies' Day at the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Thursday.
The £600,000 Nassau Stakes, the joint-richest race for fillies and mares staged anywhere in Europe, takes centre stage on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, and has an excellent supporting card featuring the £300,000 G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes and £200,000 G2 Richmond Stakes.
QIPCO 1000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook (Richard Hannon), who captured the Newmarket Classic at unprecedented odds of 66/1, is among 10 fillies and mares remaining for the G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes (3.35pm) over nearly 10 furlongs.
Billesdon Brook has yet to race beyond a mile and was last seen out when fourth behind runaway winner Alpha Centauri in the G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. The daughter of Champs Elysees has an excellent record at Goodwood, having won the Telegraph Nursery on this day in 2017 followed by the G3 Grosvenor Sport Prestige Stakes at the August Bank Holiday Weekend.
Cheveley Park Stud's Veracious finished one place ahead of Billesdon Brook at Royal Ascot, a more than satisfactory performance given it was her first start since bolting up in a seven-furlong maiden at Newmarket in October.
Veracious' trainer Sir Michael Stoute has captured the Qatar Nassau Stakes seven times, most recently with Favourable Terms in 2004, and needs one more success to equal the late Sir Henry Cecil's record.
Chris Richardson, Managing Director of Cheveley Park Stud, said today: "Veracious came out of Ascot well and Sir Michael has been very happy with her. The Qatar Nassau Stakes is a step up in trip, but Mr and Mrs Thompson (owners of Cheveley Park Stud) and Sir Michael are keen to run and that is the plan.
"I think her run at Ascot was above what we expected, to be honest. We were delighted with the performance and were obviously beaten by a special filly. Sir Michael did not want to tuck her in behind horses at Ascot and then find she was fighting for her head in the early half of the race, which is why we let her stride on. It wasn't the intention to set it up for anybody else, it was more the fact she had not raced for so long.
"The 10 furlongs will certainly give us other options if it all works out next week. As far as we can see on pedigree, she definitely deserves the opportunity over 10 furlongs."
The older generation is headed up by Urban Fox (William Haggas). The four-year-old daughter of Foxwedge showed improved form on her first attempt at 10 furlongs when she defeated Investec Oaks heroine Forever Together by three and a quarter lengths in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on July 1.
Ireland and Britain's champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien has three fillies to choose from as he chases a fifth victory in the Qatar Nassau Stakes. Four-year-olds Hydrangea and Rhododendron, who have bagged five G1s between them, are joined by three-year-old Magical, successful on her latest start in the G2 Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh on July 22.
Godolphin has two possible representatives in Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby), runner-up in the G1 Investec Oaks and G2 Ribblesdale Stakes on her last two starts, and Dubai G2 scorer Promising Run (Saeed bin Suroor).
G2 German 1000 Guineas scorer Nyaleti (Mark Johnston) and Wilamina (Martyn Meade), who was third in the G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot, complete the confirmations.
The Qatar Nassau Stakes forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
* Ladies' Day also features the newly-upgraded G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (2.25pm), with boosted prize money of £300,000. Established in 2003, the 14-furlong race for fillies and mares became a G3 contest in 2004 and this year's renewal has been promoted to G2 status, attracting 16 confirmations and boasting plenty of strength in depth.
Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani could saddle the progressive God Given, who scored in determined fashion in a 12-furlong G3 contest at Haydock Park on June 9, before finishing a short-head second to Horseplay in the G2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park on July 7, in which the John Gosden-trained Precious Ramotswe, a dual winner this term, finished third.
Other contenders include Isabel De Urbina (Ralph Beckett), who captured the Listed Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes over 12 furlongs on June 24.
Dance The Dream (Marcus Tregoning) has been off the track since finishing a creditable sixth in the November Handicap at Doncaster over a mile and a half, but recorded some fine efforts in 2017, including a third-placed run behind Ajman Princess in the Listed Daisy Warwick Stakes at Goodwood (1m 4f) in May.
Trainer Marcus Tregoning, based at Whitsbury Manor Stables in Hampshire, said today: "Dance The Dream is in very good form at home and the plan is to run at Goodwood.
"The Lillie Langtry will be her first run of the year, but we have been very happy with her work at home and we've just taken our time with her this year. Due to ground conditions, we just waited before making any real decision on where she would start her season, but she has run well on good to firm ground at Goodwood before.
"Goodwood are excellent with their watering policy and it will probably be the best ground in the country there next week, so we are keen to run. The step up in trip to a mile and six furlongs will really suit her and we are looking forward to the race. She is also entered in the Ebor, but she might have a low weight in that race so might not get in.
"We haven't pushed her this year and she is ready to go now. Sometimes not running until the middle of summer can help these horses as they are fresher than some of the horses who have been running since the start of the season."
The five-year-old mare is part-bred by ex-jockey Willie Carson.
Star Rock (Hughie Morrison), a Listed winner last year, made an encouraging return to action when a close fourth in a Listed contest at Maisons-Laffitte on July 22. The four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock defeated God Given in a 12-furlong maiden at Newmarket in May, 2017.
William Haggas could be represented by four-year-old Maid To Remember, a staying-on third in the G3 Stobart Energy Hoppings Fillies' Stakes on Tapeta at Newcastle on June 29.
Aidan O'Brien has two entries courtesy of recent G3 winner Flattering, who finished fifth behind stable companion Forever Together in the G1 Investec Oaks and six-race maiden Queen Iseult.
Maid Up has won her last three starts for trainer Andrew Balding, which included a neck success in a competitive Ascot handicap on July 13 over 12 furlongs, whilst the unexposed Lubinka (Peter Chapple-Hyam) has not been seen since finishing fifth in the G3 Musidora Stakes at York in May.
The unexposed Pilaster (Roger Varian), winner of a novice event on the All-Weather at Chelmsford in May, as well as Lady Bergamot (James Fanshawe), who got the better of White Chocolate (David Simcock) in handicap company over a mile and six furlongs at Chelmsford City in June, are also entered.
Chris Richardson, Managing Director of Cheveley Park Stud, added: "Pilaster has been left in, but I would be suspicious about her running unless Goodwood gets significant rain. There are lots of other races for her later in the season when she will get her conditions. We won't risk her on fast ground."
Godolphin's Natural Scenery (Saeed bin Suroor), fourth in this race 12 months ago, and G2 Ribblesdale seventh Lady Of Shalott (David Simcock), complete the 16 confirmations.
* The big two-year-old race on Ladies' Day is the £200,000 G2 Qatar Richmond Stakes (3.00pm, 18 entries) over six furlongs.
Aidan O'Brien has five entries to choose from, headed by Van Beethoven, winner of the six-furlong G2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh on June 30, when defeating Marie's Diamond(Mark Johnston) by half a length. However, Van Beethoven disappointed last time when unplaced in the G2 July Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket on July 12, a race in whichKonchek (Clive Cox) finished runner-up, Charming Kid (Richard Fahey) third andDunkerron (Alan King) fourth.
In addition to Van Beethoven, O'Brien's entries include Listed winner and G2 Norfolk Stakes third Land Force while among Mark Johnston's trio of entries is Dark Vision, who is unbeaten in two starts.
* The seven-race card on Thursday, August 2 gets under way with the £75,000 Matchbook Best Value Exchange Handicap (1.50pm, 23 entries) over just short of 10 furlongs for three-year-olds. Among the entries for this handicap is the progressive Danceteria, trained not far from Goodwood in Pulborough by David Menuisier, who is seeking a four-time having won on his last three starts, at Sandown Park and Newmarket (twice).
Three £25,000 contests bring Ladies' Day to a close - the Telegraph Nursey (4.10pm, 7f, 34 entries), the Markel Insurance British EBF Fillies' Maiden (4.45pm, 7f, 20 entries) and the Tatler Handicap (5.30pm, 5f, 19 entries).
The 2018 Magnolia Cup, presented by Swarovski in support of Cancer Research UK, will take place at 1.15pm on Ladies Day.
This charity race invites riders who are the leading women of business, sport, fashion, medicine and media, to take part. Staged over five and a half furlongs, the Magnolia Cup is being run for the eighth time in 2018 and has raised over £1.2 million for charity since its inception.
The 11 riders taking part in 2018 are: Lady Alice Manners (Sunday Telegraph columnist and personal shopper), Dr Amanda Cross (cancer researcher at Imperial College London, funded by Cancer Research UK), Dr Camilla Hickish (trainee doctor and cancer survivor),Emily Baxendale (founder & creative director, Emily-London Millinery), Camilla Swift(supplements editor, The Spectator), Rosie Tapner (British fashion model and student at Oxford Brookes University), Sarah Cook (sport secretary, Daily Mirror & Sunday Mirror),Shadi Halliwell (chief marketing officer, Three Mobile), Katie Forrest (managing director at the Edit Design Agency), Victoria Gray (lifestyle director, Sunday Express S magazine) andAnna Rowlinson (gallery manager at the Osborne Studio Gallery, London).
The going at Goodwood remains: Good to Firm
There is the possibility of a shower tonight (Friday) and tomorrow. Between three and six millimetres of rain is forecast for Sunday, with next week predicted to be dry and a little cooler. Watering is in progress to maintain conditions.