Glorious Goodwood on Thursday: Fancy Blue set to blow rivals away in Nassau Stakes

Let the head scratching commence as we are treated to three mouthwatering Group races on day three of our Glorious festival on the Downs

Deirdre and connections after their memorable win in the 2019 Nassau Stakes / Picture: Malcolm Wells
Deirdre and connections after their memorable win in the 2019 Nassau Stakes / Picture: Malcolm Wells

Those on display include Derby runner English King attempting to put in a royal performance in the Gordon Stakes, while Fancy Blue will be aiming to fend off her ferocious rivals in a hotly contested Nassau Stakes.

1:10: Mirabeau En Provence Handicap (Class 3):

We open the account on day three with a tight looking handicap sprint over five furlongs. Clive Cox and Adam Kirby are a formidable partnership when it comes to sprints and Hand On My Heart takes a big step down in grade from a Listed event at Sandown last time out. She’s beaten only two opponents in her last two appearances and it would take a big comeback to get the better of these improving three year-old’s.

Four of these met here in June with Electric Ladyland just denying CASPIAN QUEEN. Spanish Angel was back in third and Glamorous Anna was short of room and weakened into sixth. The one to take from that performance may be Caspian Queen, who gave away five lengths at the break and managed to stay on strongly in the last furlong. She has had a 3lb rise since then but with Ryan Moore on board she is guaranteed to put in a valiant effort on a racecourse which she enjoys. Electric Ladyland is 9lbs higher than that affair and Spanish Angel 3lbs, so may find it tough to get the better of Caspian Queen.

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1:45: Unibet You’re On Handicap (Class 2)

This handicap over a mile and a quarter looks highly contested, with Mark Johnston’s Zabeel Champion fighting for favouritism with Richard Hannon’s three year-old Mafia Power. Mark Johnston has won three of the last seven runnings of this contest and has strong claims with Zabeel Champion; who ran on gamely to claim his second win of this season at Newmarket after beating Mafia Power by two and a half lengths. Mafia Power has a 2lb swing on the weights from that run and has since powered to an impressive victory at Haydock. This is a tougher task at hand but he may be able to reverse that form with Zabeel Champion from June.

Magnetised found only one too strong on his reappearance at Thirsk when pulling seven lengths clear of the next rival and if improving further from that, he may be able to mount a challenge. This is a big step up though and it’s hard to tell what he has beaten that day at the moment.

Al Salt looks a nice prospect for William Haggas and would’ve won comfortably if he didn’t drift horribly right last time out at Wolverhampton. Although he hampered his chances, he stayed on gamely in the last 100yds to fend off any challenge and if sorting out that problem he may put in a great challenge drawn kindly in five.

I think it could be worth siding with Hughie Morrison’s STARCAT on the hope he will bounce back from a disappointing performance in the Britannia Stakes last time out. On debut in December, he stayed on in eye-catching fashion to take his first victory at Kempton. To begin this season he was met with the task of the 2000 Guineas, in which he raced prominently but was inevitably outclassed in a respectable seventh. Last time out he was met with very unfavourable conditions on soft ground and he may be able to capitalise with this step up to a mile and a quarter on a sharper track like Goodwood. He couldn’t be in better hands with Oisin Murphy in the saddle and may put in a challenge at a larger price.

2:15: Qatar Richmond Stakes (Group 2)

Our Group action begins with the Richmond Stakes over six furlongs. It’s best to start off this preview by emphasising the sheer size of Aiden O’Brien’s candidate Admiral Nelson; he is a big powerful robust individual who looked an absolute monster when winning on debut at the Curragh. He was sent off favourite for the Coventry Stakes but could only manage eighth at the hands of Ryan Moore. He should be exceptional as a three year old but it’s a question as whether this colt will be able to bounce back.

Yazaman is the well backed favourite for William Haggas and Tom Marquand after placing behind impressive colt Tactical on his last two appearances. He took a keen hold that day and should appreciate this sharp six furlongs at Goodwood.

From that July Stakes, which has provided six of the last eighteen winners of this, it looks like QAADER could improve further also. He was met with unfavourable conditions that day on good to soft ground and will appreciate the sharper six furlongs at Goodwood. Out of the two it looks like they are tough to separate and it would be no surprise to see them end up 1-2.

Fifteen of the previous eighteen running’s of the Richmond Stakes have been won by a horse in the front three of the market, but nonetheless I think Gussy Mac deserves a mention for Roger Teal. He got up close home in the listed ‘Dragon Stakes’ when finishing ahead of Significantly, who ran in the Molecomb yesterday. This step up to six furlongs shouldn’t be an issue and he should be in the fram.

2:45: John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes (Group 3)

The Gordon Stakes looks to revolve around the Derby second favourite ENGLISH KING, who has another attempt to reign triumphant over a mile and a half. This year’s Derby is somewhat of an unknown but it was clear that of the horses left in Serpentine’s wake, English King was finishing the most encouragingly. Epsom presents a huge task over a mile and a half and this presents an easier assignment. If continuing the promise from his Lingfield Derby Trial win, he may be tough to stop.

But of those attempting to chase him down, it’s guaranteed that Khalifa Sat won’t be too far away. Andrew Balding’s colt is two from two at Goodwood including staying on gamely to get the better of Emissary in the Cocked Hat Stakes. Since then, he finished an impressive second in the Derby and it looks like he could even be upped in trip to 1m6f. If it comes down to an eye-balling battle then Khalifa Sat is sure to get on top with whoever he’s up against and he could well prove tough to stop if that’s the case. Tom Marquand will no doubt be urging to get the better of English King, having ridden him on debut before being replaced by Frankie Dettori for the Derby.

Mogul will have to bounce back from two lacklustre performances this year if hoping to land the spoils here. As a two year-old he was a good looking prospect for Aiden O’Brien, but he’s failed to follow that up this campaign having been beaten odds-on favourite in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and finishing sixth in the Derby.

Al Aasy is an intriguing candidate having not been in the Derby like the four of these runners. Last time out he ran on well to gain his second successive victory in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. He drops back in trip today to a mile and a half which isn’t an issue. However, what is a doubt is that he has only been seen once on anything firmer than good to soft when finishing a lacklustre fifth at Newmarket in June. He may prove the one to mount a challenge to English King and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him land the spoils.

3:15: Qatar Nassau Stakes (Group 1)

The highlight of the day comes in the fifth race of the day as seven top class fillies go head to head for the Nassau Stakes. Last year's affair was won by the Japanese candidate Deirdre, who is aiming to repeat that success this year. Since that triumph, she has only put in one creditable performance in the ‘Qipco Champion Stakes’ at Ascot in October, finishing behind Magical and Addeybb. It looks like she’s up against it here and will need a lot to go in her favour for her to make it two wins in as many years.

Nazeef looks like the favourite for this episode of the Nassau after winning the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last time out. She ran on well that day and will be aiming to make it seven consecutive victories here. The doubt lies in that, whilst she stayed on nicely to win her last race, she only beat Billesdon Brook by a neck. Whilst Billesdon Brook is a 1000 Guineas winner, it is unsure whether she is up to Group 1 standard now having finished second in a Group 3 prior to that. Therefore, Nazeef may be up against it here with some improving fillies.

It looks like Donnacha O’Brien’s three year-old FANCY BLUE will be the one to beat. She comes here off the back of a triumph in a red hot French Oaks beating the likes of Alpine Star and Peaceful. This was a blistering performance, displaying a sharp turn of foot and also staying on well to secure the victory. A huge telling point may be that Ryan Moore has opted to get in the saddle for Fancy Blue instead of riding Magic Wand, whom Frankie Dettori rides. Adding to that is the fact she receives a 9lbs weight allowance; she does encapsulate everything you’d look for from a Nassau Stakes winner and all being well in running, we could see a spectacular performance.

3:45: Gusbourne Nursery Handicap (Class 2)

We are treated to more two year-old action in the Gusbourne Nursery Handicap over seven furlongs in an affair which looks very open. William Bligh powered away to a comfortable three length victory last time out at Haydock. He kept on very well and travelled strongly throughout so is without doubt a main contender here. Harry Bentley takes the ride and he has a creditable record with two year-old’s and could add one to the tally here.

RUNNING BACK will appreciate this step up to seven furlongs at Goodwood after staying on nicely last time out. He made up a lot of ground over the last two furlongs and displayed some impressive sectional times here. This sharp 7f may suit and he’s bound to be in the frame with Oisin Murphy on board. Richard Hannon’s record at Goodwood is a concern as he hasn’t been firing on all cylinders at recent Glorious festival’s but he has a great chance to defy that trend here.

Mark Johnston is always tough to discount and his pick of the bunch will be Codebook, who will be hoping to improve from his recent second at Yarmouth, beating only one rival.

4:20: British EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes:

In the penultimate race of the day we will see two-year-old’s trying to stake their claim in the British E.B.F Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. Out of the nine runners, five have had a previous run and the pick of the bunch may come from TEODOLINA who looks the one to beat here. She ran on very strongly on debut despite being bumped three furlongs out and will relish this step up in trip. Ryan Moore is on board and she’ll take the world of beating if putting in a similar performance.

Great Vibes ran well despite being very green on debut. She’ll appreciate this step up to seven furlongs and could improve bundles from that performance if not being as green. Miss Chess also looks a good prospect for trainer Ed Vaughan, having finished third at Yarmouth in an affair which looks to be quite strong at first glance with the winner running strongly in a listed contest last time out. The concern is Ed Vaughan has not had a success at Goodwood from thirteen efforts and may struggle to open his account here.

4:55: Tatler Nursery Handicap:

The finale of day three of Glorious Goodwood comes in the form of the class two Tatler Nursery Handicap sprint over five furlongs. This race looks to revolve around Tim Easterby’s promising filly WINTER POWER, who went on to triumph by five lengths just three days ago at Redcar. She looked to have won it at a canter and should be unstoppable if turning up in any kind of form like that, even under a penalty.

If she doesn’t fire on all cylinders, Golden Bear may be able to pick up the pieces for Charlie Fellowes and Andrea Atzeni. He was fifth last time out but that affair looks to have some extreme substance to it and this drop back to five furlongs could suit to a tee. He’s sure to put in a good performance and should follow Winter Power home.