Glorious Goodwood: Stellar casts line up for Goodwood Cup and Nassau Stakes

Andrea Atzeni and Stradivarius come back in after their 2017 Goodwood Cup win / Picture by Clive Bennett
Andrea Atzeni and Stradivarius come back in after their 2017 Goodwood Cup win / Picture by Clive Bennett

British Classic winners Forever Together and Billesdon Brook feature among 20 fillies and mares for the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes over nearly 10 furlongs, the highlight on the third day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Thursday, August 2.

Galileo filly Forever Together, one of eight entries for champion British & Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, shed her maiden tag in fine style with a dominating four and a half-length verdict over Godolphin’s Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby) in the 12-furlong G1 Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs on June 1.

Other exciting three-year-olds among the Qatar Nassau Stakes entries include Sea Of Class (William Haggas), unbeaten this season after two impressive Listed victories at Newbury, and G1 Coronation Stakes third Veracious (Sir Michael Stoute), a daughter of Frankel.

O’Brien’s entries also include top-class four-year-olds Hydrangea and Rhododendron, who have won five G1 prizes between them, plus recent impressive G2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Magic Wand who had Wild Illusion in second. All three are also by Galileo.

Billesdon Brook (Richard Hannon) provided a major shock when defying a starting price of 66/1 in the G1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6, making her the longest-priced winner in the history of the mile Classic.

The Champs Elysees filly, who won twice at Goodwood during her two-year-old campaign including the G3 Grosvenor Sport Prestige Stakes, has run once since her Newmarket success, finishing fourth behind runaway winner Alpha Centauri in the mile G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 22. She has yet to race beyond a mile.

Other exciting three-year-olds among the Qatar Nassau Stakes entries include Sea Of Class (William Haggas), unbeaten this season after two impressive Listed victories at Newbury, and G1 Coronation Stakes third Veracious (Sir Michael Stoute), a daughter of Frankel.

Eve Johnson Houghton sent out of her first G1 winner last week, courtesy of Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, and is eyeing further G1 glory with Goodwood winner Magnolia Springs.

The lightly-raced three-year-old daughter of Shamardal has been successful twice in four starts.

Magnolia Springs demonstrated her liking for the Sussex track with a comfortable two and a three-quarter length victory in the 10-furlong Listed netbet.co.uk Height Of Fashion Stakes on May 24.

Johnson Houghton said: “Magnolia Springs is running at Newcastle on Friday in the G3 Hoppings Stakes (1m 2f on Tapeta).

“She has come on really well since the Height Of Fashion Stakes - I am very pleased with her.

“We know she likes Goodwood after her win there last time, and not every filly will like the track, so we felt it was worth giving her an entry in the Qatar Nassau Stakes.

“She is a filly who is only going to improve, both physically and mentally, and I hope she can get up to that level.”

Newmarket trainer John Gosden won three successive renewals of the Qatar Nassau Stakes between 2012 and 2014. He could run four-year-old Dubawi filly Coronet, successful on her comeback in the G2 Middleton Stakes at York in May.

North Yorkshire handler Mark Johnston has an excellent record at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. He has made two entries - G2 German 1000 Guineas winner Nyaleti, also successful in Goodwood’s Listed Matchbook Is Commission Free Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes in May, and fellow G2 scorer Threading, who was the G1 Coronation Stakes runner-up and won the Markel Insurance Fillies’ Maiden on debut by six lengths at the 2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Talented five-year-olds Promising Run (Saeed bin Suroor) and Wilamina (Martyn Meade) are also entered in the Qatar Nassau Stakes which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Top stayers Stradivarius & Vazirabad set to resume rivalry in £500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup

Defending champion Stradivarius (John Gosden) and Vazirabad (Alain de Royer-Dupre FR), who were separated by three-quarters of a length when the former was successful in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on June 21, are likely to clash again in the £500,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup on Tuesday, July 31, day one of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

There are 26 excellent entries for the 2018 Qatar Goodwood Cup, staged over two miles and part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Stradivarius captured the 2017 renewal of the Qatar Goodwood Cup, the first running of the prestigious event as a G1 contest, when he came home a length and three-quarters in front of Big Orange, the winner in both 2015 and 2016.

Owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, Stradivarius is chasing the WH Stayers’ Million, a bonus of £1 million offered by Weatherbys Hamilton which will be awarded to the horse who wins one of four prep races in May followed by the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup and the G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (York, August 24).

Stradivarius landed a prep race, the G2 Yorkshire Cup in May, before scoring at Royal Ascot. His trainer John Gosden has also entered Weekender, owned and bred by Khalid Abdullah, and third in the G3 Henry II Stakes over two miles at Sandown Park in May.

Vazirabad, the leading French stayer, was making his British debut when runner-up at Royal Ascot, but trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is eyeing a return to the other side of the English Channel for the Aga Khan-owned six-year-old.

The son of Manduro boasts a fabulous record, having won three times at G1 level in France as well as taking the valuable G2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan for the last three years, bringing his career earnings to just short of £2.5 million.

Chantilly-based de Royer-Dupre commented: “We are certainly considering the Qatar Goodwood Cup for Vazirabad.

“We will keep an eye on the weather, as I wouldn’t want to travel with him if it is really hot. If it is normal weather and not too hot, we will certainly look at coming over.

“He has come back well from Royal Ascot. He doesn’t give the maximum in his races - he is an old man who knows his job and looks after himself!

“Because of the way he races, it has meant he has been able to stay in training for a long time in such good condition.

“It would be nice to take on Stradivarius again.”

One statistic Vazirabad would have to overcome is the lack of French-trained winners of the Qatar Goodwood Cup in modern times. The last horse to score for France was the Etienne Pollet-trained Pan in 1951.

Other Gold Cup runners who could re-oppose Stradivarius in the Qatar Goodwood Cup include the third home Torcedor (Jessica Harrington IRE) and the fourth Order Of St George (Aidan O’Brien IRE), winner of the Gold Cup in 2016 and twice successful in the G1 Irish St Leger.

Order Of St George is one of seven entries for Aidan O’Brien, reigning champion trainer in Britain and Ireland. O’Brien’s septet also includes the three-year-old Kew Gardens, successful in the G2 Queen’s Vase over 14 furlongs at Royal Ascot, as well as Giuseppe Garibaldi and Delano Roosevelt, who were third and fifth respectively in the 12-furlong G2 King Edward VII Stakes last week.

The Queen could be represented in the Qatar Goodwood Cup by Call To Mind (William Haggas), who has won at Goodwood, having taken the Listed March Stakes in 2017. Last time out the four-year-old son of Galileo made a successful transatlantic raid when victorious in the G2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes over two miles at Belmont Park, USA. The Queen has twice enjoyed success in the Goodwood Cup, courtesy of Apprentice (1965) and Gaulois (1966), who were both trained by Cecil Boyd-Rochfort.

Desert Skyline (David Elsworth) finished third behind Stradivarius and Big Orange in the 2017 Qatar Goodwood Cup before going on to success in the G2 Doncaster Cup. He disappointed last time out however when last in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Godolphin has captured the Qatar Goodwood Cup four times and in 2018 could be represented bythe mare Natural Scenery, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Other contenders include the Ronnie Arculli-trained and Ed Dunlop-trained pair of Red Verdon, runner-up in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Amazing Red, an impressive winner last time out in a 14-furlong Newmarket handicap. Withhold (Roger Charlton) has yet to race this season, having been last seen out when winning the valuable Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket in the autumn.

The chances of the Qatar Goodwood Cup remaining in West Sussex rest with Platitude, trained by Amanda Perrett near Pulborough. The five-year-old is a dual winner at Goodwood, including in the 2016 Listed March Stakes.

Entries for the G2 contests at the Qatar Goodwood for three-year-olds and upwards - the Qatar Lennox Stakes, the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes and the King George Qatar Stakes - will be revealed on Thursday, along with those for the two big handicaps staged at the Qatar Goodwood Festival - the Golden Mile and the Stewards’ Cup.

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