Fancy Blue threat to Nas­sau Stakes double for Deirdre

Mur­phy faces strong field in chase for Good­wood re­peat St Leger hope Al Aasy looks good for Gor­don Stakes win

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Mar­cus Army­tage

Deirdre, the Ja­panese mare who has been sport­ingly kept in train­ing to be cam­paigned in Europe for a sec­ond sum­mer, can be­come a rare two-time win­ner of the Qatar Nas­sau Stakes to­day.

Last year, her jockey, Oisin Mur­phy, the most pop­u­lar Ir­ish­man in Ja­pan, where he rides in the winter, sat out at the back as Me­hdaayih and Her­mosa tried to set sprint frac­tions up front in an ul­ti­mately pyrrhic con­test to get the lead. When they tired, Mur­phy and Deirdre picked up the pace and swept past to record a rare Ja­panese Group One vic­tory in Europe.

There does not ap­pear to be nearly so much pace in to­day’s race and Mur­phy, with a higher draw, will no doubt want to be a bit closer to the front and ride a dif­fer­ent race against a field of younger fil­lies.

How­ever, hav­ing warmed up for this in the Co­ral-Eclipse when she was beaten over five lengths by Ghaiyy­ath – just over a length be­hind the race-fit Magic Wand and just over two be­hind En­able – she should now be fit and fir­ing. If there is another Group One in her, it is surely to­day.

“She’s in good shape,” said Mur­phy yes­ter­day. “Her most re­cent work has been smart but it’s a very com­pet­i­tive race.”

He is not wrong there. Ai­dan O’Brien’s Magic Wand sets a high stan­dard, but with Ryan Moore elect­ing to ride Don­nacha O’Brien’s Fancy Blue, the French Oaks winEnglish ner, she has the look of Cool­more’s sec­ond string to­day.

Fancy Blue, en­ter­pris­ingly rid­den by Pierre-Charles Boudot at Chan­tilly, got past long-time leader Alpine Star late on to give his young trainer a first Clas­sic be­fore his 22nd birth­day. In re­al­ity, get­ting 9lb, she is the one to beat.

But John Gos­den’s Nazeef has been highly pro­gres­sive, as well as de­vel­op­ing some­thing of a win­ning habit, hav­ing tri­umphed in her past six starts, most re­cently ac­count­ing for Billes­don Brook in the Fal­mouth. This is her first at­tempt at the trip but there is noth­ing to sug­gest she will not get it. In­deed, she might even im­prove a bit for it.

The John Pearce Gor­don Stakes, Good­wood’s St Leger trial, might an­swer a few ques­tions thrown up by this year’s Derby as four of the six run­ners, Khal­ifa Sat, English King, Mogul and High­land Chief fin­ished, in that or­der, be­hind Ser­pen­tine at Ep­som.

Was English King a bit un­lucky? Was Khal­ifa Sat, sec­ond from start to fin­ish, just well rid­den or was he gen­uinely the sec­ond-best horse in the race? Was Mogul, a big colt, still in need of the race? Did High­land Chief run too bad to be true?

King ap­peared the un­luck­i­est and is likely to be sent off a warm favourite to give Stradi­var­ius’s owner, Bjorn Nielsen, a sec­ond win­ner of the week.

“He came out of the Derby re­ally well, much bet­ter than I hoped,” said his trainer Ed Walker. “I had never had a run­ner in the Derby be­fore and I en­vis­aged it hit­ting a horse for six. The race wasn’t run at the nor­mal tempo of a usual Derby.

“It was a very strange race. It was a per­fect storm of var­i­ous fac­tors, not just for English King but for a lot of horses in the race. He came from a long way back and fin­ished strongly. It was just frus­trat­ing as you never felt you got a run for your money the way the race de­vel­oped.

“My gut feel­ing is that he is not a St Leger horse. He has a lot of speed. He clocked the fastest last three fur­longs in the Derby and fin­ished in­cred­i­bly well in the Ling­field Derby trial where he broke a 30year track record. I would quite like to keep him at a mile and a half.”

Nev­er­the­less, the Derby run­ners can all be put in the shade to­day by the Wil­liam Hag­gas-trained Al Aasy, win­ner of New­mar­ket’s Leger trial, the Bahrain Tro­phy. That was over a fur­long fur­ther but he is not slow and can take another pos­i­tive step to­wards Don­caster to­day.

The speed mer­chants are out in the Qatar Rich­mond Stakes, which can go to the in-form Roger Teal with his re­cent Sandown win­ner Gussy Mac, who should en­joy the ex­tra fur­long to­day.

Win­ning com­bi­na­tion: Oisin Mur­phy cel­e­brates last year’s tri­umph on Deirdre

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