Top fillies set for Nassau showdown

GLORIOUS Goodwood’s Blue Square Nassau Stakes is shaping up to be one of the races of the season after a high-class entry of 26 was unveiled for the August 4 contest.

Oaks winners Peeping Fawn and Light Shift both feature, as does French filly Mandesha and last year’s 1000 Guineas heroine Speciosa.

Mandesha and Peeping Fawn head the market at 5-2 with the sponsors, and the former, a three-time Group One scorer, adds an intriguing dimension,

“This is very much her objective, unless something goes wrong. She is aiming for that,” said Georges Rimaud, racing manager to owner Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

“Everything is going well, she looks very well and she is behaving better than she has for her last two races. Goodwood is her aim.”

After winning top-level contests over distances ranging from a mile to a mile and a half, she was surprisingly beaten by Mountain High at Saint-Cloud on her last start.

But Rimaud is adamant the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained four-year-old is a much better animal later in the year.

“She tends to take some time to come to herself really and I think she just thrives later in the season. As she strengthens she gains confidence, so she should be OK,” he said.

“This will be a real test for her and we will be able to see more clearly after it what we shall do next. But that is another good reason to travel over rather than keep her in France.

“She is OK on most ground but we obviously wouldn’t want very soft ground, she is better on good ground.

“She has won Group Ones over a mile, 10 and 12 furlongs, but I think she is at her best over 10 furlongs and more.”

Light Shift suffered her first defeat of the season at the Curragh on Sunday when Peeping Fawn reversed Epsom Oaks form in the Irish equivalent.

However, her jockey Ted Durcan is keen for another crack at Aidan O’Brien’s charge, especially if Henry Cecil’s first Classic winner for seven years can race back on a firmer surface.

“She ran a super race and we know she is better on better ground. So, under the circumstances, while we were disappointed not to win, we were very pleased with her,” said Durcan.

“Peeping Fawn is a very good filly and she handles that ground – it wasn’t just very soft, it was heavy.

“We had the utmost respect for the winner going over there, especially as she had beaten older horses in the Pretty Polly. In hindsight, we are very happy.

“They are a pair of very smart fillies and hopefully we will get our revenge, there is no reason why she won’t bounce back.

“In all her races, especially at Newbury and Chester, she proved she has an electrifying turn of foot and on that ground she couldn’t show it.”

Pam Sly’s Speciosa also found Peeping Fawn a tough nut to crack when they clashed in the Pretty Polly, where she had to concede 12lb.

That will be reduced to 9lb at Goodwood but will still be a tough ask, according to her handler.

“She ran very well over 10 furlongs last time so, at the moment, the preferred target is the Nassau,” said Sly.

“She’s going to struggle to win this year as she has to give 9lb to the three-year-olds. It was 12lb in Ireland the other day but it’s still a lot of weight, so we’ll just have to see how we go.”

However, Ribblesdale winner Silkwood, trained by Michael Jarvis, may miss the race in favour of the Yorkshire Oaks after being held up in her work following a dirty scope.

“It was well documented that she scoped dirty a couple of weeks ago, but as it happened she wouldn’t have run in the Irish Oaks on that ground anyway,” Jarvis told At The Races.

“Goodwood is on the horizon, but having missed a week, it may come a little quick now. The probability is that she will wait for the Yorkshire Oaks.

“If she’s in good form and does a piece of work before the Nassau we may think again, but at the moment I’m leaning towards the Yorkshire Oaks.”

Blue Square Nassau Stakes

Sponsors bet: 5-2 Peeping Fawn, Mandesha, 7-2 Light Shift, 6-1 Nannina, 7-1 Silkwood, 10-1 Speciosa, 16-1 Echelon, 20-1 Four Sins, Alexander Tango, 25-1 Bar.

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