FORECASTERS are suggesting the Armageddon-like rain that hit Goodwood yesterday will be long gone by the time racing starts this afternoon, but that isn’t going to make any difference to the ground.
Conditions turned heavy in a matter of hours yesterday afternoon and it’s going to be extremely hard work for every horse on the Sussex Downs today.
It’s a real shame because what looked like a high quality renewal of the Qatar Nassau Stakes (3.35pm), the feature race on day three of the meeting, is now going to be more like a mud wrestling competition.
I had to amend the copy yesterday evening due to the withdrawals of Nezwaah and Wuheida, and there could be some more non-runners this morning.
Favourite Winter still has to be the most obvious winner on paper, having added the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot to her English and Irish 1000 Guineas wins.
There is no getting away from the strength of Winter’s form, and she has won with some cut in the ground, but the big question mark is the step up to 10 furlongs.
At just 13/8 with Ladbrokes, it is clear bookmakers think she will win, while her maestro trainer is adamant she will stay.
However, at the prices I am prepared to take her on, as on breeding grounds there are certainly reasons to be concerned.
Her mother was all about speed and today’s trip may test her to the limit, especially on heavy ground.
She has also had such a busy campaign to date without any real break and this could well be one step too far for her.
The Classic generation have won seven of the last 10 renewals of this race and with the conditions as they are I’m siding with Godolphin’s SOBETSU to continue the trend.
Charlie Appleby’s daughter of Dubawi showed her love for soft ground when bolting up in the Group One Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville in May.
That performance saw her sent off at just 6/1 for the Investec Oaks, but she disappointed at Epsom.
I’m sure the drop back to 10 furlongs on a soft surface will see her in a far better light today and she is worth backing at around the 7/1 mark.
There are very few others in the field who look to want soft ground, but the older fillies and mares at least have experience on their side.
Sir Michael Stoute’s QUEEN’S TRUST was second in this last year before going on to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
She badly needed her reappearance run at York back in May, but left that showing well behind with an eye-catching run behind Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
A reproduction of that performance would put her right in the mix here and while she would prefer a sounder surface she might just be able to get away with it.
Another older filly likely to run well is Frankie Dettori’s mount SO MI DAR, who hasn’t been seen since finishing third to Speedy Boarding at last year’s Arc meeting.
She has missed a number of engagements this term already, but it is significant that Dettori chose her over stablemate Shutter Speed at the declaration stage.
Her defeat at Chantilly last October was the first time she had been beaten in her five-race career and she undoubtedly remains a filly of huge potential.
Fitness is taken on trust, but with the Gosden team in such good form she is hard to leave out of calculations.
She also won last year’s Investec Derby Trial on soft ground, so has at least shown she can handle conditions worse than good.
Of the rest, Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When caused a huge shock in the Sussex Stakes yesterday and he’ll be hoping to repeat the trick with Blond Me.
She beat Queen’s Trust at York first time up, but it would still be a surprise if she was good enough to win this.
A bigger threat may actually be Winter’s stablemate Hydrangea, who has finished behind the favourite on her last four starts.
The step up in trip and softer ground may be enough to turn that around, though.
BILL ESDAILE’S NASSAU STAKES 1-2-3
- Queen’s Trust
- So Mi Dar