It was another Ladies’ Day at Glorious Goodwood as two star fillies grabbed the final-day headlines.
Minding, already rated as the world’s joint best-three-year-old filly, secured her sixth Group 1 success in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, the feature race on day five – then Dancing Star became the first filly in almost a quarter of a century to win the Stewards’ Cup.
In the Nassau, Europe’s richest race for fillies and mares, trainer Aidan O’Brien recorded his third success in the race.
Ryan Moore’s mount travelled well throughout the one-mile, two-furlong contest but met slight trouble in the straight after being snatched up and dropping to last.
Minding showed her star quality to grind out victory after taking up the lead. While O’Brien’s charge did not show an instant turn of foot, the 1/5 favourite found plenty all the way to the line to record a workmanlike success by a length and a quarter from Queen’s Trust.
For O’Brien and Moore and the owners, it completed a Goodwood Group 1 double after The Gurkha took the Qatar Sussex Stakes earlier in the week.
A delighted O’Brien, registering his fourth success of the week, said: “She was very well coming into the race. We were happy with her at home. We knew it was going to be a small field today and that it was going to be tactical. It was rough enough for her but Ryan negotiated it brilliantly and got through it.
“Hopefully, she’ll be fine and OK after the race. I was nervous watching it and a lot of things can happen and race riding can be dangerous at the best of times at the speed they’re going, but we had the right outcome today.
“She is a great traveller, she quickens very well, she stays very well. She looks after herself when she gets to the front. She is thriving and she has a great mind. She is an unusual filly who can cruise, relax and quicken. She has always been a big powerful filly but physically she is doing very well. She was big, strong and powerful today.”
O’Brien would not be drawn on future targets for the filly who looks to have plenty of different possibilities. He remarked: “I’m not sure what the lads will do with her now but she can go down plenty of different ways from now. They’ll probably decide in a week or so but she has plenty of options. She is getting a lot of experience.”
“This is a great filly. She has danced every dance. She was special as a two-year-old, won well in the 2000 Guineas and has kept on progressing. She gets a mile and a quarter very well but when she gets there, she doesn’t do much more so it is difficult to assess her.”
Moore was happy with Minding after the race and explained she was never going to win that well because of the way the race panned out.
He was presented with the winning prize for the Racing UK Top Jockey award for the meeting following the race - and this was not even his final win of the festival.
Minding at least had to work hard to master runner-up Queen’s Trust. The 16/1 chance, who was ridden by James McDonald, went down fighting by a length and a quarter, with the same distance back to third-placed Jemayel.
See a video report on Minding before, during and after the big race, above
Later, Dancing Star became the first filly since Lochsong to win the Qatar Stewards’ Cup after the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old ran out the impressive winner of the £250,000 six-furlong dash.
The joint bottom-weight was the last horse to get into the big-race field when the declarations were announced on Thursday.
Like Lochsong, the 9/2 favourite is owned by Jeff Smith and is from the same family, with her grand-dam, Lochangel, being a half-sister to the 1992 winner. She was always travelling kindly for her jockey, David Probert, and accelerated away from the field in the final furlong, recording a one and a quarter length victory from Orion’s Bow.
As owner and breeder Smith explained after the race, Dancing Star’s victory was a family affair for his Littleton Stud operation.
“This is a grand-daughter of Lochangel, who is a half-sister to Lochsong,” said Smith. “Lochsong won this when she was four and I think she was the last filly to win the Stewards’ Cup, so we are keeping up a good family tradition.”
Trainer Andrew Balding was delighted for Smith and very impressed with the winner’s performance.
“She has won it so well,” said the trainer. “We had a good draw but you have got to be impressed and she is a very special animal. I am feeling very blessed and very lucky not only to have a filly as good as her but also to get into the race. I think it was a little more luck than judgement there - we just crept in - and to get the draw, everything fell into place.”
Probert said: “She’s improved so much this year, run by run. She’s grown into such a nice filly, and I was so glad she crept into the race [at the bottom of the handicap].
“She had speed all around her which helped and she took me into the race so well. As a three-year-old against older horses she had a tough task, but she’s done it so well.”
Hoof It rolled back the years to give young jockey Nathan Evans the perfect birthday present as the pair landed the first race of the final day of the festival, the Qatar Stewards’ Sprint.
Evans turned 19 today and belied his inexperience to give the 2011 Qatar Stewards’ Cup winner a peach of a ride. Evans joined trainer Mick Easterby as an apprentice two years ago and had his first winner at Thirsk in April 2015. Evans rode 12 winners last season and this was his 28th winner of the current campaign.
“That was a lovely birthday present,” said Evans. “To have a winner at Glorious Goodwood on Stewards’ Cup day, on Hoof It as well, is brilliant. He’s a great horse. He’s been good to me - it’s a dream.
“We came out of stall 11 and the boss (trainer Mick Easterby) deliberately chose as near to the inside as he could. We jumped out nicely but, for a long way, he didn’t travel that well for me.”
In another nip-and-tuck finish, Dal Harraild thrust his head out to land the Qatar Handicap for William Haggas’s Newmarket stable.
The winner, ridden by Pat Cosgrave, carried the colours of his breeder, Andrew Stone of St Albans Bloodstock Ltd. Dal Harraild, a well-backed 5/1 chance, beat Al Shaqab Racing’s Shraaoh (7/1) by a short head, with Move Up (6/1) a head back in third.
Haggas is thinking of a York challenge and a possible black-type race for the three-year-old gelding next - the horse is entered in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes, but the Melrose Handicap is another possibility.
“I’ll have to talk to Phil [Smith, the handicapper] this evening,” said Haggas with a smile. “What will he go up for today’s win - 3lb?”
Moore chalked up his eighth win of Glorious 2016 in the saddle when he guided evens-favourite Lockheed to success in the Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes, making it a double for trainer Haggas.
Another trainer who has had a super week is Mark Johnston and he scored again in the Qatar Stakes, won by Joe Fanning on 12/1 contender Hawatif.
The Qatar International Stakes for pure-bred Arabian horses went to Al Mourtajez, owned by the festival’s headline sponsors from Qatar, Al Shaqab Racing.
And the final race of a marathon five days, the Qatar Apprentice Stakes, was claimed by Illusive (28/1) for young rider Marc Monaghan and trainer George Scott, celebrating his first Goodwood victory.
Speaking about the success of the week as a whole, Alex Eade, General Manager of the racecourse, commented: “The Qatar Goodwood Festival has continued to be a great success in its second year. The racing has been as good if not better than ever.
“We have been delighted with the crowds this week and the total attendance has topped 100,000 again, which is always our target.”
Don’t miss a full look back at Glorious Goodwood in the Chichester Observer - out on Thursday.
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