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Nazeef shines in Sun Chariot victory at Newmarket

Nazeef doubled her Group One tally as she returned to winning form in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

John Gosden’s filly, striking on the eve of stable star Enable’s bid for a historic third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp, produced a determined late challenge under Jim Crowley to beat Half Light and Cloak Of Spirits by a length and a half and a neck.

Nazeef (17-2) had capped a winning sequence of six in succession when she struck for the first time at the top level over the July Course in the Falmouth Stakes three months ago.

That was over this same distance of a mile, before she twice came up short at 10 furlongs in the highest grade at Goodwood and Deauville.

But Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s four-year-old appeared to relish rain-softened conditions on her return to Newmarket, challenging inside the final furlong to see off the runner-up, who had been supplemented for the race by French trainer Henri-Alex Pantall.

Gosden said: “They had a 100 millimetres of rain in Deauville and it was like an ice rink – she couldn’t get her foot in, so Frankie looked after her. She came out of the race well and we were able to come here back to a mile.

“I think she gets a mile and a quarter, but she got confused and lost her balance a little coming down the hill in the Nassau to run on late and be third. She is a grand filly that is very brave.

“For Newmarket this is soft, it is quite testing by our standards here. I think she asserted well in the last 50 yards. She is a tough filly.

“She was in handicaps last year. She won a handicap in great style at Chelmsford last backend. We decided then, with permission of her owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan, to keep her in training to win a Listed race, which she did immediately in the Snowdrop.

“She then went on to the Duke of Cambridge, then the Falmouth and then the trainer got carried away – but she will get a mile and a quarter – and then to win this one her.

“It has been a fantastic year for her. I think it was a career best. In the Falmouth it was heads and necks and she battled by a neck. She is gritty and an assertive filly.”

Gosden will now consider the options for Nazeef with her owner.

He added: “It’s up to the owner-breeder and he may decide to send her to the breeding sheds. He may decide to run her next year or have a run in America. I think the key thing is the next 10 days – she will tell us if she wants to do any more or not.

“You never think you are going to go from a Chelmsford handicap to knocking off two Group Ones at Newmarket, but she is a willing filly to train. She is quite lazy in her work and looks after herself.

“She is not one of those horses that wants to over do and I think that is a big factor with her.

“Those are the options – retire, race next year or Breeders’ Cup. I’m pretty sure she has a QEII entry and that is another one you can look at. We will put them all on the table and see what we want to do.”

Crowley was similarly thrilled and said: “That’s two Group Ones on her now. She ran very well in the Nassau, she just got outpaced that day.

“It was a great performance. John gave her a break and she has come back tip top. It was a very good race today – it was a proper Group One, so it was lovely to win it.

“She handles the ground. She isn’t ground dependent, but she seems to act well with that bit of cut. She has progressed very well and has exceeded expectations by improving all the way.

“It is lovely to get another Group One on the board.”

Champers poised to sparkle again in Sun Chariot

Champers Elysees will face 11 rivals as she bids for a second Group One win in Saturday’s Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

The three-year-old completed her meteoric rise through the ranks when landing the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last month – graduating from a Curragh handicap at the start of the season to top-level success, via Listed and Group Three wins.

Champers Elysees, who is trained by Johnny Murtagh, was subsequently purchased by Teruya Yoshida and will sport his colours for the first time at Headquarters. Like at the Curragh, the daughter of Elzaam will be ridden by Colin Keane.

Peaceful represents Aidan O'Brien
Peaceful represents Aidan O’Brien (PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Peaceful was second to Champers Elysees at Leopardstown and will try to reverse that form under Ryan Moore.

The home defence is headed by the John Gosden-trained duo of Nazeef and Terebellum, with the pair renewing old rivalries having finished first and third respectively in the Falmouth Stakes back in July.

Richard Hannon is also double-handed with last year’s winner Billesdon Brook and Cloak Of Spirits, who struck at Listed level at Newmarket last week.

Billesdon Brook will defend her Sun Chariot crown
Billesdon Brook will defend her Sun Chariot crown (Tim Goode/PA)

As well as Terebellum, Godolphin are also represented by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Final Song and Henri-Alex Pantall’s Half Light, who was supplemented for the race on Monday.

Last year’s runner-up Veracious tries her luck again for Sir Michael Stoute, while Ralph Beckett’s Feliciana De Vega makes her seasonal bow having won the Darley Stakes on her final start of 2019.

The William Jarvis-trained Lady Bowthorpe and Amanda Perrett’s Lavender’s Blue – the mount of Hollie Doyle – complete the line up.