Sunday 18 March 2018

Winter faces toughest test yet against big girls

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Marcus Armytage

Winter, which has proved herself the pre-eminent filly of the Classic generation over a mile, faces her biggest test today when she not only attempts a mile and a quarter, but takes on her elders for the first time in the Qatar Nassau Stakes (3.35). It is a fascinating contest.

Aidan O'Brien is confident that the step up to a mile and a quarter will not hinder his latest star filly.

"It's her first time over a mile and a quarter, but she is in good form," said the Ballydoyle handler.

"We always thought she was a very high-class filly. From the first time she ran she has progressed with every run. We were delighted with all three of her Group One wins and have been impressed all three times."

In her last two races, the Irish Guineas and Coronation Stakes, O'Brien's grey filly has thrashed Roly Poly, who has since won a brace of Group Ones herself, so the form is rock solid.

Winter has also won on softer ground but sprinting is her dam side's forte and we should, perhaps, remember that fillies like Minding - who won the Newmarket Guineas and this race last year - do not grow on trees.

In addition, there will be extra emphasis on stamina given the ground, although none of her high-class opponents really wants today's ground.

Queen's Trust won the Breeders' Cup on rattling fast going, while Roger Varian is concerned about the surface for the improving Nezwaah.

John Gosden's pair have both won on it, however. Shutter Speed won the Musidora on soft but the trainer has said she will not run if there is too much rain, while So Mi Dar, who won the Epsom Derby Trial on soft but is from a family which tends to prefer fast ground, comes here fresh and is the choice of Frankie Dettori. She does lack an outing, though.

The one that will thrive in the conditions is Godolphin's Sobetsu, who won the Saint-Alary over 10 furlongs by three lengths on soft ground before finishing tailed off on fast ground at Epsom.

Whether she is good enough is another matter, but at 16/1 she is worth a punt.

Elsewhere, Nebo, who made Gustav Klimt work hard in the Superlative Stakes, can go well in the Richmond Stakes (3.0), while, on the basis that Nathaniel breeds horses that do not mind a bit of cut, Melodic Motion should be thereabouts in the Fillies' Stakes (2.25). (© Daily Telegraph, London.)

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