Day three of Glorious Goodwood features three back to back Group quality races, the last of which is the Nassau Stakes. The middle distance event is part of the British Champions Series and has a hefty purse to reflect its high status.
When the race began in 1840, it was only open to three-year-old fillies but since 1975 fillies and mares of all ages have been able to compete.
The Nassau Stakes is synonymous with the late, great trainer Sir Henry Cecil who won this eight times. Three of those victories were with Midday, whose hat-trick came between 2010 and 2012.
Nassau Stakes Past Winners
|2020||Fancy Blue||11/4||Donnacha O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2019||Deirdre||20/1||Mitsuru Hashida||Oisin Murphy|
|2018||Wild Illusion||4/1||Charlie Appleby||William Buick|
|2017||Winter||10/11||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Minding||1/5||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2015||Legatissimo||2/1||David Wachman||Wayne Lordan|
|2014||Sultanina||11/2||John Gosden||William Buick|
|2013||Winsili||20/1||John Gosden||William Buick|
|2012||The Fugue||11/4||John Gosden||Richard Hughes|
|2011||Midday||6/4||Sir Henry Cecil||Tom Queally|
About the Nassau Stakes
Ladies’ Day at the Goodwood Festival brings much glitz and glamour to the course but of course it’s not just a big day for the girls watching on from the stands. The third day of the Festival is also a big one for the female horses as it sees the running of the Nassau Stakes, a test restricted to fillies and mares aged three and above. Boasting a hefty purse and Group 1 status, it’s one of the leading all-female races of the season and stands as part of the British Champions Series.
As some of you may know, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas but that’s not the inspiration for the name of this race. It instead acknowledges the friendship between former Goodwood Racecourse owner, the 5th Duke of Richmond, and the House of Orange-Nassau. Back when first established in 1840, the event was contested over one mile but in 1911 it increased to its present length of just under of one mile and two furlongs. Another change followed in 1975 as for the first time three-year-olds were eligible to compete in the then Group 2 contest.
THREE-YEAR-OLDS ON TOP FOLLOWING RULE CHANGE
Since being made eligible to compete in this race, three-year-olds have well and truly seized the opportunity. Regularly bettering their older competitors, younger entrants have enjoyed a sustained period of success in this race stemming right back to their first appearance in 1975. While there have been older victors dotted around, the chart below shows just how dominant minimum age performers have been. A large part of the reason why is that three-year-olds carry eight pounds less than horses aged four and above.
MIDDAY STRIKES NOT ONCE BUT THRICE
It’s a rare sight to see any horse win this Group 1 event back to back. Ruby Tiger managed it in 1991 and then in 1992 and before that Roussalka was the last to pull off the double 16 years earlier.
Bearing this in mind, it is quite the remarkable feat that Sir Henry Cecil’s Midday managed to secure three consecutive victories in what remains a record breaking hat-trick. Having already won the 2009 and 2010 renewals, the Khalid Abdullah-owned horse returned as a five-year-old despite the lack of success older horses have had in this race. She showed no sign of ageing though as she won by two lengths, clocking a time only half a second slower than recorded 12 months earlier.
MIDDAY’S NASSAU STAKES VICTORIES
|2011||5||6/4 F||2 lengths||2:07.72|
|2010||4||15/8 F||1.25 lengths||2:07.25|
DISTANCE FORM NOT A NECESSITY
A former win or two over 1m 2f is certainly not going to harm a horse’s chances in this race but it’s far from a key requirement of Nassau Stakes hopefuls. For many former champions, winning this race was their first taste of success over the distance with several making their middle distance debut. Of course, there have been plenty of fillies and mares unable to cope with the demands of a longer trip but a former distance win nevertheless remains a fairly unimportant feature.
HALFWAY WINS HEAVENLY RENEWAL
As there are often only single-digit fields competing in this middle distance race, sometimes it’s easy to spot who the winner will be down the final furlong. This was absolutely not the case during the 2008 renewal however, arguably the most memorable of recent times.
Aidan O’Brien’s Halfway To Heaven enjoyed a slender lead heading into the last 200 yards but the evens favourite Lush Lashes as well as Passage of Time and Heaven Sent were all well within touch. Lush Lashes mounted a real challenge but fell short by a head’s length alongside Passage of Time with Heaven Sent finishing just a neck further back.
2008 NASSAU STAKES FULL RESULT
|Position||Horse||Jockey||Trainer||Distance Behind Winner|
|1||Halfway To Heaven||Johnny Murtagh||Aidan O’Brien||–|
|2||Lush Lashes||Kevin Manning||Jim Bolger||Head|
|3||Passage Of Time||Ted Durcan||Sir Henry Cecil||1/2 Length|
|4||Heaven Sent||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael Stoute||3/4 Length|
|5||Muthabara||Richard Hills||John Dunlop||2 Lengths|
|6||Classic Remark||Micky Fenton||Harry Dunlop||2 3/4 Lengths|
|7||Soft Morning||Seb Sanders||Sir Mark Prescott||5 Lengths|
|8||Majestic Roi||Eddie Creighton||Mick Channon||12 Lengths|
|9||Sugar Mint||Michael Hills||Barry Hills||22 Lengths|