Despite receiving a two day ban for the ride, Richard Hughes has to be congratulated on his handling of The Fugue in Saturday’s Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Having settled at the rear of the field, Hughes was at pains to follow the instructions of trainer, John Gosden and give the filly a trouble free ride after the hard rides she had experienced in the Epsom Oaks and the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, where she was beaten in both. There were many who thought she would have won the Oaks had she not been badly hampered earlier in the race. As it was she still managed third place and clearly can handle 12 furlongs let alone the 10 furlongs she won over in the Nassau.
Fortunately, the task was made easier for Hughes as Tom Queally had only set up a modest pace up front on Timepiece allowing Hughes the luxury of settling The Fugue into the perfect race rhythm. Timepiece of course was the surprise 16/1 winner of the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes in 2011 but she had not gone on from that victory and she had started this race at the same 16/1 price. Notwithstanding, Queally continued to take the initiative on the mare and quickened two furlongs from home, and almost stayed on until Hughes came from seemingly nowhere with a blistering run on The Fugue in the final furlong to win the race by a length going away to win, The Fugue in second and Aidan O’Brien’s Was back in third.
It was nothing short of stunning finale to a great race and gave Gosden his sixth Group 1 win of the season, adding to his wins in the Coronation Stakes (Fallen For You), Pretty Polly Stakes (Izzi Top) and the Prix Rothschild (Elusive Kate), not forgetting Nathaniel in the Coral Eclipse and Great Heavens in the Irish Oaks. The win was also Gosden’s sixth Group 1 of the season.
Whilst Gosden was overjoyed with The Fugue’s performance, he was far less pleased with the performance of Izzi Top who went off as the 7/4 race favourite, with stable jockey, William Buick, on board. She however, could only trail in sixth place after failing to get upsides with the leader a furlong from home. Izzi Top, who finished 3rd in the 2011 Oaks had previously been unbeaten this season, winning three from three including Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
He two Gosden horse’s will now head for the Knavesmire at York to contest the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, for which one would think that both would have strong chances. It is yet another Group One for Gosden to claim and with his record in fillies & mares races so far this term who would bet against one of his making the winners enclosure in this race too.
Aidan O’Brien had been hoping for better things from his Epsom Oaks winner Was, but although game she simply lacked the pace of The Fugue and had to content herself with third place. She too will head off for the Yorkshire Oaks later this month where the extra two furlongs should bring her back to her best.
It is worth noting that The Fugue has been given a 20/1 quote for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October and given the record of 3 year old fillies in that race in recent years then she would have to be in with a half decent chance but she would be up against stablemates Great Heavens and of course, her older brother, Nathaniel. One thing is for certain though, it’s hard not to see Gosden’s Group successes in 2012 slowing down.