Crunchsports.com's guide to the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Saturday afternoon (due off 15:15 BST) courtesy of Bettingpro.com tipster Ross Aylward...
The Nassau Stakes at Goodwood provides an opportunity for this season's classic fillies to beat their older counterparts, but will they be up to the task?
Who is the favourite?
The John Gosden-trained Izzi Top has completed a hat-trick of wins this season, culminating in a first Group 1 success against three rivals at the Curragh last time, and the four-year-old has been put in as 2/1 favourite. She seemed to appreciate the heavy ground last time but has won on good to firm, so the prospect of good ground on Saturday should pose no problem. A bigger question mark hangs over her form and there are grounds for thinking it falls short of what is required. Certainly, the form of the Dahlia Stakes, which she won on her reappearance, has worked out very badly and she beat little of note in Ireland last time, so she looks more of a lay at her current price.
The lightly-raced Nahrain (7/2 general) showed progressive form as a three-year-old last season, landing the Prix de l'Opera over nine furlongs at the Arc meeting and finishing second in the Breeder's Cup Filly & Mare Turf, when possibly finding the 11 furlongs a shade too far. She was strongly fancied on her reappearance in the Windsor Forest Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot but was bitterly disappointing, fading ninth after being ridden prominently. However, a line can probably be put through that form as she was far too fresh and free for her own good through the early stages, and was a spent force close home. With that run behind her, she ought to do considerably better over her ideal trip and stable confidence is high.
The all conquering Gosden stable has a second string to its bow in the shape of The Fugue, who is one of just two three-year-olds in the race, the other being the Aidan O'Brien-trained Was. Both fillies clashed in the Oaks at Epsom and it was the O'Brien runner who came out on top, with The Fugue finishing best of all in third. However, watch a re-run of that race and it's clear that the winner benefited from an enterprising ride by Seamus Heffernan, who dictated a modest gallop, whereas The Fugue was given far too much to do by William Buick. Both have been beaten since but there were excuses and it could be close between them on Saturday.
Best of the rest?
Sir Henry Cecil has his horses in fine form (four winners at the 'Glorious' meeting at the time of writing) and that heightens interest in his Timepiece, who is bidding to follow in the footsteps of the stable's Midday, the winner of the last two renewals. However, she's hard to fancy on her two runs this season, including when finishing well behind Izzy Top at York, and was probably fortunate to win the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes last season as her main rival Sahpresa was given a shocking ride by Christophe Lemaire. A career best is needed here. Lay Time, a 16/1 shot with Boylesports, is well regarded at home but she's yet to live up to her reputation on the track. The rest are impossible to fancy.
What are the key stats?
This used to be a race for three-year-olds but with the classier ones tending to be kept in training these days, it's the older horses that have held sway in recent renewals, winning five of the last eight. Midday, when securing her second win, became the only recent winner not to have scored earlier in the season, while only three had finished out of the frame the time before. The race is not known for shocks with all the last 10 winners emerging from the top three in the betting.
What's the verdict?
Izzy Top is opposable on form and looks plenty short enough in the betting, while I'm not convinced the Oaks form amounts to much either. The form of NAHRAIN on the other hand looks rock solid, with her victory in the Prix de l'Opera the best on offer. The second that day, Announce, had previously won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat, and there were several other high class fillies behind. Her poor reappearance run at Ascot can be safely ignored and the vibes coming out of her stable since are incredibly strong. I thought she'd be near favourite for this, so the 7/2 on offer looks more than fair.