Glorious Goodwood’s showcase end-of-festival race, the £200,000 Group One Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes was won by a 20/1 longshot called Winsili - but trainer John Gosden insisted: That was no fluke.
She upstaged a pair of Classic winners and a number of other better-fancied rivals to score for her owner/breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah, who was landing the contest for the fourth time in five years, following a trio of wins for Midday from 2009 to 2011.
Gosden was winning the race for a second year in succession following victory for The Fugue 12 months ago, while for jockey William Buick it was a first win in the race. He is sponsored by Markel Insurance, whose name appeared in the race title.
The favourite Sky Lantern, ridden by the festival’s leading jockey Richard Hughes and trained by top handler for the week Richard Hannon, got boxed in and was never able to make a move.
Winsili was running in just her fifth race having been unplaced over 12 furlongs in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot on her previous outing.
Gosden said: “It’s not a fluke - I didn’t bring her here for the Sussex air. I thought Sky Lantern was the one to beat, because she’s a gorgeous filly, but didn’t quite get the rub of the green today.
“We were drawn outside, which does have dreadful disadvantages, but does mean you are unlikely to get boxed in - you have to go the long way around, but you can avoid trouble. That was a big help to us.”
Buick said: “Obviously, she didn’t stay a mile and a half in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. She’s not easy and the whole team at home have done a great job because she is a bit lively in the mornings.
“She was great today. I got a nice run through and she is very game. It has been an up and down week, so it’s great to finish on a high.
“My game plan was to follow Hughsie and I was hoping that he wasn’t going to get to far back, which he didn’t. Then I had plenty of room in the straight to manoeuvre. She travelled so good that I decided to take my time because I know that she has a turn of foot. She fought off all challengers up to the line.
“I am a great believer in the hood. It helps her a lot - it makes her focus and she can’t hear anything else.”
The 7/4 favourite Sky Lantern’s rider Hughes, who finished fifth, said: “I had a good run through the whole way. I was behind the Godolphin runner at the two-pole and I edged out to go round her. Mr Buick’s horse rolled down on top of me and just pushed me back in on the heels.
“I think that my filly was the best in the race. I was coming out to win and she must have remembered the belt in the face! There was nothing that I could have done. That’s racing but it was very unlucky.”
Hannon and Hughes might have missed out in the Nassau but they continued their week’s scintillating form with two more wins.,
The first of those came in the RAC Stakes on promising three-year-old Pether’s Moon, Hughes coming from the pack to finish a strong winner on the 4/1 joint second favourite. Mark Johnston’s Salutation, ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, was a length and a quarter behind.
Hannon said: “He is a lovely horse - we have always liked him ever since we saw him at the sales. He could make up into a Cup horse one day. He won’t do too much this year. He is in the Ebor but won’t run there. He will go for a Listed race or Group Three.
“We were a bit worried about the track but he has done it well. He is a horse in the making, when he gets stronger as a four-year-old, he is going to be a very good horse.
“Hughesie said the horse did not like Newmarket last time - running about with him.
“He has franked the form with the other two today. I thought Hughesie was going to get shut in again but he found a way out again - it is not good for the ticker.”
After Hughes had picked up the Racing UK prize for being the week’s top jockey, he proved he deserved it - not that he needed to - with his eighth win of the week, this time on Art Official, the 11/4 favourite, Hannon-trained like all his other Glorious 2013 triumphs, in the Fairmont Nursery Stakes.
Hannon and Hughes weren’t even far out of the picture in the Robins Farm Racing Stewards’ Cup, finishing fifth with 8/1 joint second favourite Ninjago.
The cavalry charge was won by Neil Callan riding 12/1 chance Rex Imperator for William Haggas. Runner-up was 66/1 chance Ajjaad (William Twiston-Davies), which is the only horse in trainer Ted Powell’s stables and helped make the race every bit the spectacle it always seems to be.
Callan said: “This means a lot because a friend of mine and I found this horse for my sponsor and some friends to go the Dubai Carnival last year. He went out there and it just didn’t suit him - it was probably the heat or whatever - he has always had an issue with the gates - and he just melted out there.
“We literally had to bring him back to England and go back to basics with him. We sent him to William and, between him and Gary Witheford, they have done a magnificent job to get him relax and get him in the gates.
“I always knew that this horse was going to be good, that’s why we found him, and I am glad that he has won a big one.
“The race was perfect. He jumped smart and William told me to ride my own race. He told me to sit on him, wait for that last burst and use him late.
“I got a nice tow into it off Heaven’s Guest and he was running away at the two-pole - I was climbing over them and just had to wait a little bit longer. He has quickened like the Group horse which I thought he was.”
The opener, the Robins Farm Racing Stewards’ Sprint Stakes, for horses that didn’t make the Stewards’ Cup, was won by rookie Ryan Tate with his second victory of the festival on the Clive Cox-trained 16/1 contender Seeking Magic taking a photo finish by a nose from David Probert on Take Cover.
Cox said: “He’s very talented but not the easiest at home, and credit to Steve Harris who rides him in his work. Ryan is riding very well and is good value for his 5lb claim, so the whole thing has come together really well today.
“There was a small mistake before the race in that Ryan weighed out with a stirrup missing from his saddle - jockeys are riding at different tracks and these things happen - so we had to run back in and resaddle. All’s well that ends well - Ryan’s showing confidence and the horses are in great form. After this horse’s last run we gave him a break at a stud to freshen him up for this and he came back really well.
“It’s very sweet to have any winner at this track, and all the owners are here today - they are a great supporting cast - so it promises to be another late night.”
Johnny Murtagh enjoyed his second success of the week when he guided Snow Trouble first home in the Natwest Ahead for BusinessEBF Maiden Stakes. The 3/1 chance brought a first victory of the festival for Marcus Tregonning.
The last, the Telegraph Stakes, was taken by Pal of the Cat, a 20/1 contender with Jimmy Quinn on board for Brian Gubby.
Look back at another Glorious Goodwood to cherish in next week’s (August 8) Chichester Observer with the verdict on the week, a picture, and focus on Ladies’ Day.