High Noon for Midday’s Nassau Rivals
1 Midday 15/8F
Henry Cecil saddled his seventh winner of the £200,000 Blue Square Nassau Stakes today when Midday won consecutive runnings of the Group One contest.
Cecil said: “They went no pace early on and when she hit the front she idled until the runner-up [Stacelita] came to her and then she raced again.
“It was more like a mile race. She’s getting a little bit lazier and because there was no pace she had to quicken up a lot, which doesn’t really suit her - she prefers to come gradually, and today she thought she’d done enough when she hit the front.
“I didn’t want to make the running with her, but I wanted her to get the rail and the better ground, and instead she had to come a little bit wide. She’s a very sensible filly, although you have to be a little careful what you do with her, and she likes a strong pace.
“She’s stronger than last year, but she doesn’t want the ground too fast because she’s quite heavy shouldered and hasn’t got the best joints. If it had been any firmer today she wouldn’t have run - she pottered round for a few days after she won at the Breeders’ Cup [last year] so I have to be careful with her.
Midday was beaten at York on her seasonal debut in the Middleton Stakes, but Cecil said: “She needed the race that day and was giving 6lb to the winner. She was sore after York, but hopefully we can have a clear run to the end of the season.
“We’ve had a few jarred up this year and the two-year-olds need time so we haven’t had many runners yet this year.
“She’s a very good filly and I’m pleased for the Prince because he deserves everything he gets. All being well she’ll go for the [Darley] Yorkshire Oaks.
NO DISAPPOINTMENT FOR ROUGET WITH BREEDERS’ CUP THE ULTIMATE TARGET
Stacelita ran well to be second to Midday in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes, with the star French filly going down by a length and a quarter in the Group One contest after at one point looking the likely winner before suffering interference from the winner close home.
Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget’s charge, who was sent off at 9/2, could meet her rival again before the season ends, with the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November earmarked as her probable end of season target.
Rouget said of last season’s runaway Prix de Diane heroine: “I am not disappointed with that - it is obviously disappointing when you don’t win but not when you are beaten by a better horse. We are in a sport, after all.
“She is back to her best form. We started late to protect her for a summer and autumn campaign with the aim of the Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf.
“I like to give her four weeks between races so we will have to consider whether she goes to Deauville for the Prix Jean Romanet. There are two or three races she could go for during the rest of the season - it depends on her form - and we will also look at the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day at Longchamp.”
Saeed bin Suroor said of third-placed Antara (8/1): “She ran a big race, she is a very solid filly and always tries very hard.
“She always shows her class in the morning and the way she runs, she always looks a very good filly.
“There was a moment in the race when I thought she might close on the winner but she was just beaten by better fillies.
“We will keep her at the same distance but there are no plans at the moment - we will find a nice race for her.”
STEWARDS AFTER THE BLUE SQUARE NASSAU STAKES
Channel 4 broadcast live the first full stewards’ inquiry to feature on British terrestrial television following the Blue Square Nassau Stakes.
The British Horseracing Authority and the media rights holders agreed that stewards inquiries could be broadcast live earlier this month.
Midday won the Group One race for the second year in succession but in the process she drifted left in the closing stages, despite jockey Tom Queally having his whip in his left hand, and interfered with runner-up Stacelita, partnered by Christophe Soumillon.
Here is the evidence given by the two jockeys to the stewards:
Christophe Soumillon said: “When I arrived at the two-furlong marker, I was trying to get to the rail. I couldn’t follow his (Tom’s ) rhythm when he quickened - it took me a length and a half down.
“At that time, I have to take my chances and come out again and, when I took my filly out, I came really fast - I thought that I was going to win - and the filly (Midday) on my inside started to push out. She came quite fast on me and, when my filly felt the pressure coming, she was a bit unbalanced and it was 20 or 30 metres from the line. This is the only thing that I can tell you right now.”
Tom Queally said: “In what was initially a slow-run race, I took a stalking role about four (furlongs) from home and I quickened it up little by little. I wanted to commit my filly in plenty of time and I saw Mr Soumillon was labouring.
“I had a quick look to my right to make sure that I was clear of him because my initial plan was to go to the rail for the best ground, so I was well over a length clear of him when I went to the right.
“Although both fillies shifted left late on, I think that it is fair to say that Mr Soumillon’s filly went a little bit left to begin with and my one followed her, although my one did probably go a little bit to the left again. I had my stick in my left hand and I did everything in my power possible to keep her straight.
“As well as that, I was almost a length and a half clear right at the line and I won decisively.”
The stewards found Queally guilty of careless riding but said the interference did not make a difference to the result. They suspended him for two days, August 14 & 15.
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