A view from connections ahead of Thursday’s Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
Nazeef has already exceeded the hopes of her connections and will therefore face her next challenge with “no pressure” in the Qatar Nassau Stakes.
Defending champion Deirdre and French Classic winner Fancy Blue lead the six-strong opposition to John Gosden’s prolific filly in Thursday’s Group 1 showpiece at Goodwood.
Nazeef is already an “absolute star”, however, in the words of owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager Angus Gold – who is optimistic that, following her Group One breakthrough in Newmarket’s Falmouth Stakes, she will take this move up to 2000m in her stride.
The four-year-old has extended her winning sequence to six, and Gold said: “She’s been an absolute star obviously this year – it’s lovely to see her not only fulfil the potential but exceed what we hoped.
“We were hoping to make her a stakes winner – and she’s won a Listed, Group 2 and now a Group 1. It’s been a real thrill.”
He admits the extra 400m are a step into the unknown, but expects them to suit Nazeef.
“Stepping up in trip now will be interesting, but everyone who has ridden her has always felt she would get it,” added Gold.
“Obviously you never know for sure until they try, but I’m very hopeful she will stay it – the way she has always finished off her races. There’s no pressure. She’s a Group 1 winner, and she’s done us and herself proud.”
Nazeef’s main rival in the market is Fancy Blue, who gave her trainer Donnacha O’Brien a first Classic win when claiming the Prix de Diane in a thrilling finish at Chantilly earlier this month.
Second in the Irish 1000 Guineas, Fancy Blue beat Alpine Star a short neck in the Diane, with third-placed Peaceful and fourth Raabihah just two heads further back.
O’Brien said: “In a tight finish between four horses you can usually mark it down a bit, but they were definitely the right horses involved that day and they pulled clear of the rest of the field, so it looks like very strong form.
“Fancy Blue is very genuine, tries hard and takes her work well. She’s a very uncomplicated and talented filly who relaxes and is able to quicken.
“She gets a mile and a quarter (2000m) very well and is closely related to High Chaparral (the 2002 Derby winner), so there’s plenty of stamina in her pedigree and she will probably get a mile and a half (2400m) in time. I think she can probably be competitive in Group 1s anywhere from a mile to a mile and a half.
“There are a great bunch of fillies around at the moment. Among the three-year-olds you have Love, who looks special, and then, of course, you’ve got Enable and Magical, and a few of the those turning up at Goodwood this week, including ours.”
O’Brien expects Fancy Blue to adapt to the Sussex track as she lines up in a race that is part of the Qipco British Champions Series.
He added: “You can’t be sure until you go there, but she’s quite easy to ride in a race and adaptable. I’d say she’s got a very good chance of handling it all and she’s been in great form since France.”
Japanese runner Deirdre secured a famous victory in the race last year and will bid to follow in the footsteps of eventual three-times race winner Midday, who successfully defended her title in 2011.
The six-year-old warmed up for this race by finishing fifth in the Eclipse, with assistant trainer Yoshi Hashida believing the mare to have taken a step forward since that outing.
He said: “I think she has improved since her last race, maybe it is the seasons – August is always her favourite season.
“We tried the Eclipse because Sandown has a long straight and with the Covid situation it has been a little bit tricky to train the horses. Sandown was proper timing for us.
“We found there that she might struggle with the uphill, now we are heading to the Nassau Stakes with the long straight and flat course. It is a beautiful racecourse, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
“We understand the great importance of the race, we have seen Midday win three times and we are the only horse to have a chance to win twice in a row (since) and I can’t wait. We won last year, so we are very excited. I can’t wait.”
Aidan O’Brien and Frankie Dettori team up with Magic Wand, an Australian Group 1 winner who has successfully plied her trade right across the world and was last seen finishing fourth in the Eclipse.
O’Brien said: “She’s a lovely filly who takes everything in her stride and this looks a nice race for her in the middle of the summer. She’s very straightforward and we’re very happy with her.”
The seven-strong field is completed by Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen Power, the Jessica Harrington-trained One Voice and Amanda Perrett’s Lavender’s Blue.
Deirdre returned the surprise 20-1 winner last year though hasn’t scored since and finished behind fourth-placed Magic Wand in the Eclipse at Sandown last time. Frankie picks up the ride on the latter with Ryan Moore riding Donnacha O’Brien’s FANCY BLUE (NAP), who beat a couple of previous Group 1 winners when landing the French Oaks over today’s trip at Chantilly.
That looks top-drawer form and she can take advantage of the weight conceded by the four-year-old Nazeef. The latter made it six in a row when landing her first success at the highest level with a victory in the Falmouth at Newmarket and there may be even more to come over this longer trip. Queen Power and Lavender’s Blue were both beaten by Nazeef at Ascot earlier but One Voice failed to get a clear run in a Group 2 at the Curragh last time, though takes a further step up in class today. – Sportinglife.com