Edited from a Goodwood release
With only two weeks to go until Goodwood's five-day July Meeting, the connections of intended runners are getting increasingly excited about seeing their charges perform at the principal fixture at Britain's most beautiful racecourse.
This year's July Meeting runs from Tuesday, July 29, to Saturday, August 2, with prize money totaling a record £1,862,000. This compares with a prize fund offer totaling £1,623,250 in 2002, representing an increase of £238,750 or almost 15%. Thirteen stakes races will be offered, including nine group races.
Gerard Butler today revealed that he is intending to run Nayyir
in the meeting's showcase event, the £285,000 group I Sussex Stakes, on Wednesday, July 30.
This contest has a rich history having been first run in 1841 and the race is one of the most prestigious mile events in the European Flat season.
Nayyir was successful on five occasions last season and his victories included the group III Lennox Stakes [subsequently elevated to group II for the first time in 2003] at this meeting and the group II Victor Chandler Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October. He was the five-length sixth behind Orientor in the Kronenbourg 1664 Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle on his seasonal debut last month.
"Nayyir is in very good shape," commented the Oxfordshire trainer. "The Sussex Stakes will be a very tough race but he seems to like the track and hopefully he will give a good account of himself."
Before taking out a full trainer's license in 1998, Butler was employed by local trainer and Goodwood director John Dunlop. This association triggered Butler's enjoyment of the July Meeting.
"I used to work as an assistant to John Dunlop and I'd always go and check the course every morning before I went to work," recalled the handler. "It's a fantastic meeting and it's always held a special place in our racing calendar.
"My wife and I used to rent a house from Rod Fabricius [Clerk of the Course and General Manager at Goodwood] so we've been pretty connected to it for quite a while."
Butler is likely to be well represented at Glorious Goodwood. "We'll have quite a few runners--maybe around 10 or 12 horses. One of them will be Commission in the Listed race on the Saturday, the Vodafone Thoroughbred Stakes."
Commission will be stepping up to mile after running creditably in the seven-furlong Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup last week at Newmarket, when finishing the two-length fourth behind Patavellian.
Swedish trainer Mikael Magnusson
today confirmed that joint second-favourite Mutawaqed
, who has been allotted 8st, will take his chance on Aug. 2, in the 100,000 Vodafone Stewards' Cup, providing the 5-year-old gets a run. There is a safety limit of 30 for this very valuable handicap and he currently requires 16 horses on a higher mark to be taken out to guarantee his chance.
Mutawaqed was an impressive winner on his last start in a six-furlong handicap at Newcastle on June 28, when proving three lengths too powerful for Smart Predator. The Lambourn trainer is not tempted to try and gain another victory with him before Glorious Goodwood even though the penalty incurred might give him a better chance of definitely running.
"The Vodafone Stewards' Cup is Mutawaqed's target now. I'm not going to run him again--I will take a chance that he makes the cut and I think it would destroy his chances if I ran him in between his last race at Newcastle and Goodwood as I want to run him fresh.
"He came out of that race very well and it was a great boost for his confidence to win going away and he's in very good order," said Magnusson.
The Swede gained his first winner in Britain with his first runner in December, having previously saddled 30 winners as a permit holder when living near Stockholm. He is excited about sending out his first contestant at Goodwood.
"I've never had a runner at Goodwood although I have been there on several occasions and I have walked the track--I think the course will suit Mutawaqed fine. It's a fantastic meeting, similar to Royal Ascot, and we are really looking forward to have a runner there," said the handler.
Unlike the majority of people in Britain who are enjoying the current heatwave sweeping the country, Magnusson is keen for some rain before the July Meeting.
"I am hoping for a bit of rain for Mutawaqed as although he goes alright on firm ground, he's a better horse with a bit of cut like it was at Newcastle," he said.Thirty Fillies Entered for Vodafone Nassau
The 2003 Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) has attracted an entry of 30 of the finest fillies from across Europe. This year the 10-furlong contest can boast record prize money of £200,000--a massive increase of £70,000 (54%) on the 2002 figure, in celebration of Vodafone's continued backing of the race up to and including the 2005 renewal. This year's renewal takes place on the final day of Glorious Goodwood--Saturday, Aug. 2.Islington
landed last year's Vodafone Nassau Stakes in tremendous style and she could bid to become the first dual winner since Ruby Tiger in 1991 and 1992. The Sadler's Wells filly could be joined by fellow Sir Michael Stoute-trained fillies Russian Rhythm
, heroine of the Sagitta One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) already this season, Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II) winner Spanish Sun, Zee Zee Top, Fantasize and Favourable Terms.Casual Look
, winner of the Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I) at Epsom Downs in June, could bid to gain a second group I victory while the Epsom Downs second Yesterday is one of three entries for Aidan O'Brien, along with the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) runner-up L'Ancresse and In The Limelight.
The Maktoum family's Godolphin operation have landed the Vodafone Nassau Stakes on one previous occasion with Zahrat Dubai in 1999 and this time around has three entries in the form of Gonfilia, Hi Dubai and Mezzo Soprano.
The last overseas-trained winner of the Vodafone Nassau Stakes was Jim Bolger's Park Express back in 1986. In 2003 there are five Irish entries in total, with the Aidan O'Brien trio of entries joined by Dermot Weld's recent American Oaks winner Dimitrova
and the useful Jim Bolger-trained filly Snippets.
There is a strong French interest in this year's Vodafone Nassau Stakes with three fillies from across the channel holding entries. The Gallic-trained raiders are headed by the 2002 Prix de Diane (French Oaks, Fr-I)) heroine Bright Sky
, who could be joined by the Richard Gibson-trained Amathia and Ana Marie from the Philippe Demercastel stable.
Further international flavour is added to the field in the form of Salve Regina
, trained in Germany by Andreas Schutz and victorious in last season's German Oaks (Ger-I).
Other interesting entries include Place Rouge, who was hugely impressive in landing the Lancashire Oaks (Eng-III) at Haydock Park on her seasonal reappearance earlier this month, Barry Hills' Geminiani, group II Pretty Polly Stakes victor Hanami and last season's group I Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile scorer Soviet Song.
Local interest in this season's Vodafone Nassau Stakes comes in the shape of Time Ahead, trained at Arundel by John Dunlop and second in the French Oaks earlier this season.
The next confirmation stage for the Vodafone Nassau Stakes is the five-day stage on Monday, July 28.
The forfeit stage took place on July 15 for the two big handicaps at Glorious Goodwood, the Vodafone Stewards' Cup and the William Hill Mile, both worth £100,000. The majority of horses engaged in these two great races have stood their ground.