Owner Alison Swinburn will savour the occasion as her star mare Audarya bids for a third Group One success in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
The James Fanshawe-trained five-year-old enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2020, graduating from a Newcastle handicap win off a mark of 99 to strike at the top level in both the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in the autumn.
Swinburn said: “She really has been a superstar – almost beyond your wildest dreams. Of course when you go to the sales and you buy a horse, you’re always hoping that they’ll be good. I was hoping I’d buy a filly that would be good enough to race and enjoy and then breed from. I don’t think I ever imagined she’d be as good as she is.
“To come from winning at Newcastle to go and win the Group One Romanet, be placed in the Prix de l’Opera – then of course the icing on the cake last year was the Breeders’ Cup, which was just magical really.”
Audarya has run just once since her Keeneland victory, taking on five-time Group One winner Love in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she was beaten three-quarters of a length in second after racing a touch keenly through the early exchanges.
Swinburn felt that was a fine effort from her daughter of Wootton Bassett, saying: “In an ideal world she would have had a run before, but things didn’t pan out like that.
“It was a big ask going straight to Ascot against Love, one of the best fillies in the world, but I was so thrilled with how she ran, because I felt it really endorsed her form.
“Her form has been abroad – and as much as that’s amazing, it’s so nice to see her run that well in the UK.
“We couldn’t have been happier with it, and she’s come out of the race really well, so we now look forward to the next one.”
The ground at Goodwood was described as heavy, soft in places before the first day of the festival – and while Audarya’s ability to handle conditions does not concern Swinburn, the 9lb she must concede to four three-year-old rivals on Thursday would be more of a worry.
“She’s won in the soft, so I think it might be less of a concern to us than it might be to others,” she said.
“The only thing is she will have quite a weight (9st 7lb) to lug in softer ground.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, Swinburn was not able to enjoy Audarya’s international successes in person last year, so she is eager to make the trip to Goodwood with her father Peter Harris – a former trainer and owner, whose former colours Audarya sports.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to it – I’m coming with my dad and a couple of friends, so we’ll make the most and enjoy the day, but then everything she does this year is a bonus. It’s just nice to be able to go and watch her run and enjoy it.”
Swinburn is planning to retire her star performer at the end of the season – although Audarya’s targets for the rest of the year are far from determined at this stage.
She added: “I think probably at the beginning of the season that (France and Breeders’ Cup) would have been the plan, but I think we will take it quite race by race and see how she comes out of it.
“The Breeders’ Cup is right at the end of our season. It’s west coast this year, so we’ll just do whatever is best for the filly – because everything she does this year is a bonus, and then she will go to the paddocks. We will just judge it on how she is.
“She will go to the Swinburn family stud, Genesis Green, which is run by my brother-in-law Michael Swinburn. That will be lovely, because we will get to see lots of her and her offspring.”
Audarya is one of six fillies declared for the 10-furlong Nassau Stakes, which is part of the Qipco British Champions Series.
Fellow five-year-old Lady Bowthorpe, representing William Jarvis, is one of her main rivals – along with Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Joan Of Arc and Empress Josephine, winners of the Prix de Diane and Irish 1,000 Guineas respectively.
The Roger Varian-trained Zeyaadah and Martyn Meade’s Technique, who were split by just a head when first and second in the Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle last time, complete the field.