Deirdre wins the Nassau for Japan on another historic Goodwood day

Deirdre gets in front to land the Nassau Stakes / Picture by Getty Images
Deirdre gets in front to land the Nassau Stakes / Picture by Getty Images

Officials at Goodwood were delighted just to attract a Japanese runner - their first one - when Deirdre was entered for the £600,000 Qatar Nassau Stakes.

So you can imagine how delighted they, as well as the horse's connections, will have been to see her win the feature race of Ladies' Day.

Goodwood bosses have been working hard since the Qatar sponsorship deal began in 2015 to attract entries from overseas, particularly from international racing hotbeds like Japan, the USA and Australia.

Clinching Deirdre for the Group 1 Nassau was a big breakthrough - and a win in the race that few saw coming will only have boosted their hopes of wooing more Japanese runners in future years.

Speaking to us a couple of weeks before this year's festival, Goodwood racecourse manager Alex Eade said: "The Japanese runner, Deirdre, entered in the Nassau Stakes is really exciting and racing is going to be shown live in Japan." Those who tuned in back home will have enjoyed the filly's unexpected success and the lovely scenes that followed in the winner's enclosure as the Duke of Richmond congratulated all involved with her.

Deirdre was 20/1 as she provided Japan with a historic success - reflecting the fact that most of the field of nine were rated as having better chances.

Trained by Mitsuru Hashida and ridden by Oisin Murphy, the five-year-old daughter of Harbinger finished with a flourish in the 10-furlong contest to capture G1 honours by a length and a quarter from long-time leader Mehdaayih (3/1).

Deirdre finished sixth in the G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June with connections blaming the soft ground for her performance. They decided to remain in England, situated at Jane Chapple-Hyam's Abington Place Stables in Newmarket, with Deirdre coming to Goodwood for an away day last month to gain experience of the course.

Today's victory was the second time Japan have won a G1 contest in Britain following Agnes World's win in the 2000 G1 July Cup at Newmarket.

The mare is owned by Toji Morita, who owns a family business in Osaka, Japan. His Racing Manager Seiko Hashida Yoshimura, who is also the daughter of the winning trainer Mitsuru Hashida, was thrilled by Deirdre's success.

She said: "That was a special performance from Deirdre. It is fantastic to have a winner at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. This is very important not only for us, but also for the whole of Japan to come over to Britain and have a big-race winner.

"Today's victory is important for Japan because it showed that it is not just possible to come here and compete, but that it is also possible to win. Hopefully, we can have a good influence on Japanese racing with this win.

"It was a very big challenge to come here. We have been in Britain for three months with Deirdre and we are so pleased that we kept believing in her. We had a lot of support and this has made this victory possible.

"We were just hoping for the best for her today. It was a gloriously sunny day at Glorious Goodwood and everything just fell right for her. Goodwood is a beautiful racecourse. It is very different to Japanese racecourses which are usually oval-shaped. We were sure that she would like this track and it worked out very well. The quicker ground was another important factor for her today and it is very special to win a G1 event in Britain.

"We could see at Royal Ascot that she was trying very hard. There was heavy rain there and that did not help her chances.

"A lot of credit has to go to Oisin Murphy. We did not give him any instructions and just decided to let him ride the horse in the way he felt right. He is a brilliant jockey.

"We have not yet decided if Deirdre will return to Japan or whether she will stay over here. We will make that decision in the coming days when we sit down and have a chat about what we should do next. She could possibly stay in Europe.

"Deirdre is a daughter of Harbinger [2010 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes winner] so that is one of the reasons we came over here. After Royal Ascot, we stayed in Newmarket, and thanks goes to Jane Chapple-Hyam. We had very good surroundings and we trained very well coming here. Hopefully, everybody at home [in Japan] was watching."

Murphy, who is leading Britain's Stobart Jockeys' Championship with 86 winners, three clear of Tudhope, formed contacts in Japan during a visit there in January when he rode in a number of races. He said: "I'm so glad the Japanese have bought a horse here and she has performed. I've been telling people since I came back from Japan of the regard they hold their horses in, and it's fantastic they have won a Group One race here - she was already a Group One winner, but it is great to do it in Britain. I can't tell you how pleased and thrilled I am for all the connections.

Murphy added: "I had a lovely draw beside Mehdaayih, and Hermosa was just on my outside. I would have liked to have sat a bit closer but couldn't go the pace. There was no pressure on me and so I rode her as I felt from instinct. It paid off, she picked up really well and I was able to use that fresh strip of ground on the rail.

"She's a big, masculine mare, a real physical, and I'm not surprised she was able to carry the 60 kilo [9st 7lb] which is far more than she would be used to carrying in Japan. I kept looking at her price, but thinking she had a wonderful chance. She worked brilliant, but to go and win against a decent field was something else.

"Hopefully we will see more horses from Japan coming over. Northern Farm, which bred this mare, has some wonderful pedigrees and this is a huge result. When in Japan I was spoilt because I rode great horses every morning."