May 26, 2024

Winter extends winning streak through summer by acing Nassau test

Winter has lured Ryan Moore into the saddle despite the distance question (Photo courtesy Goodwood via Twitter)

After convincing victories in the 1000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket, the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) at the Curragh, and the Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot, Winter is the undisputed queen of the three-year-old filly milers. Thus the Aidan O’Brien trainee sought new worlds to conquer in Thursday’s Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood, where she faced older distaffers, and 1 1/4 miles, for the first time. A further complication was the desperately soft going, making for a real slog that would expose any weakness.

None of that mattered to Winter, who sailed home as the 10-11 favorite. Stalking in third early as Godolphin’s Prix Saint-Alary (G1) winner Sobetsu dictated up front, jockey Ryan Moore was positioning for running room for Winter upon straightening into the stretch. Favorite backers might have had an anxious moment, but the gap opened quickly as pace-attending stablemate Hydrangea drifted out slightly.

Winter plowed through the seam, and although Sobetsu gamely tried to fight back, she had no answer to the relentless gray. Five-year-old mare Blond Me rallied from further back to collar Sobetsu for second, 1 1/2 lengths adrift of Winter. Hydrangea reported home fourth. The final time – 2:11.79 – was an indication of the testing conditions, although Sobetsu wasn’t in any hurry on the lead either.

Indeed, the soft ground after Wednesday’s monsoon was a significant player in the Nassau. It turned the long-delayed comeback of So Mi Dar into a tougher test than it needed to be, and she’s much better than her one-paced fifth. The going also virtually eliminated the chances of reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) heroine Queen’s Trust, who never got traction in last of six.

Moreover, a once-blockbuster Nassau field was reduced by three scratches thanks to the deluge – Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) queen Wuheida, who promised to move forward off her excellent return second in the Falmouth (G1); Nezwaah, coming off a career high in the Pretty Polly (G1); and Musidora (G3) victress Shutter Speed, fourth as the favorite in the French Oaks (G1) last out.

Yet if Winter didn’t have the opportunity to beat them too, the daughter of Galileo and 2010 Wokingham winner Laddies Poker Two still proved her point. The 10-furlong trip is well within her compass, and considering the ground, maybe she can go even longer.

“She’s made the transformation from the first half into the second half of the season,” O’Brien said, “and she’s won well on the ground, which is like winter jumping ground. It’s a different level of fitness you need for it, but she’s obviously very good.

“Dermot, who rides her at home, was delighted with her, but she’s a filly we can still look forward to in the second half of the season. Getting a mile and a quarter that well opens up a lot of options for her, and she might even get further.

“I was holding my breath all the way, because she was keen in Ryan’s hands to start with, and he did a great job to relax her. I knew he was going to wait, but when you get to the final two furlongs in that ground you don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s just very classy.”

Moore also spoke of pre-race concerns.

“Obviously, Winter has an incredible record this year. Two Guineas and a Coronation Stakes. We thought 10 furlongs would be OK for her but the ground was a worry – it is very bad,” her rider said.

“You never quite know how any horse is going to handle ground like that. It would have blunted her a bit today but in the end she was well on top. I didn’t want it to turn into too much of a slog.

“It took a while to get there, but I always knew she would.

“She travels beautifully, she is a high-class filly. I always thought she would pick the other fillies up.

“It is just in this ground you are not quite sure, they’re not sure where they are going to put their feet. Sometimes it is just one bad step and the race is over.”

Winter could turn up in another summer festival, with a possibility of an appearance at York later in the month in the Juddmonte International (G1) versus older males. Or she could await Irish Champions Weekend in September.

“The lads (the Coolmore principals) will decide on her future,” O’Brien said, “but she has an option of Leopardstown or York now she has won over a mile and a quarter.”

Longer term, Winter would be an eminently logical contender to appear at Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Sobetsu’s trainer, Charlie Appleby, reported that the Godolphin filly could look to Keeneland this fall.

“I am delighted with that,” Appleby said. “We got a soft lead up there, but that is her ground, and 10 furlongs is as far as she is going to get.

“Going forwards with her, we’ll see how she comes out of this but we could go to Deauville for the Prix de la Nonette (G2), dropping back to Group 2 company.

“Otherwise, she is a filly we could travel with to America for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for three-year-old fillies over nine furlongs – Keeneland in October can get easier conditions.”

For a cinematic treatment of the scenes before and after the Nassau, see the video posted by Goodwood on YouTube:

Earlier, Manton Thoroughbreds’ Barraquero ran out a good-looking winner of the six-furlong Richmond (G2) for juveniles, defeating Superlative (G2) runner-up Nebo and recent July (G2) hero Cardsharp, the 2-1 favorite. Headway, who missed by an eyelash in the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot, had little chance to do himself justice when jockey Pat Cosgrave opted to race in isolation on the stands’ side – the worst of the ground, according to retiring clerk of course Seamus Buckley in his Thursday update.

Barraquero was furnishing a further compliment to Expert Eye, the early 2000 Guineas (G1) favorite after bolting up in Tuesday’s Vintage (G2). In their mutual debut, Barraquero was third to Expert Eye, then graduated by six lengths at Chepstow.

The Prix Morny (G1) is likely next for Barraquero, trainer Brian Meehan revealed.

The Lillie Langtry (G3) for female stayers produced a dramatic finish as Godolphin’s 5-2 favorite Endless Time emerged from the tangled field and got up in the nick of time from Dubka.

Last year’s Lancashire Oaks (G2) winner, Endless Time was runner-up in the 2016 Prix Vermeille (G1) and Prix Royal-Oak (G1) and finished a close fourth in her Yorkshire Cup (G2) reappearance. The Appleby mare was rebounding from a 10th behind Big Orange in the Ascot Gold Cup (G1). Although the Irish St Leger (G1) is in the mix, Appleby suggested that her French itinerary may be repeated.