After a trio of seconds at the group I level, Venus de Milo goes in search of a breakthrough Aug. 2 in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) at Goodwood, but France-based Narniyn looks to be a tough opponent.
The two are among seven distaffers entered for the about 1 1/4-mile test on the fifth and final day of the Glorious Goodwood meeting.
An Aidan O'Brien trainee, Venus de Milo most recently was runner-up to Thistle Bird in the Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I) June 29 at the Curragh and posted seconds last year in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) and Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I). Thistle Bird was runner-up in last year's Nassau but bypasses this year's edition having aggravated a previous injury.
Venus de Milo has one win from three starts this season—the Munster Oaks Noblesse Stakes (Ire-III) June 16 at Cork. Her trainer will try for a third in the Pretty Polly following back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008 with Peeping Fawn and Halfway to Heaven, respectively.
Narniyn won four consecutive races for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, including a pair of group III events, before finishing a close fourth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I). She was two lengths behind Spiritjim and Noble Mission .
"She did not show her true ability when finishing fourth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time as the race came too soon for her after she had won a gourp III at Longchamp (17 days earlier)," Royer-Dupre said. "I also feel that she is much better over this mile and a quarter rather than the mile and a half at Saint-Cloud.
"It looks a very open race. The only problem could be the turn and the up and down nature of the course. But there is a long home straight and Narniyn is very easy to ride and has good balance."
Trainer John Gosden is double-handed this year after taking the two most recent editions of the race with Winsili last year and The Fugue in 2012. He will send out Sultanina, who was runner-up to stablemate Pomology in the July 5 Lancashire Oaks (Eng-II), and Eastern Belle, victress in a listed race at Newbury May 31 in her most recent outing.
The field also includes Mango Diva, a group II winner in Ireland last time out; Amazing Maria, a group III winner who was unplaced in the June 6 Investec Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) in her most recent start but who is 2-for-2 at Goodwood; and Lustrous, runner-up in the Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II) in June at Royal Ascot before disappointing in the July 19 Irish Oaks.
Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Eng-I, race 3, approximate post time 10:15 a.m. EDT) Goodwood, Aug. 2, fillies and mares, abt. 1 1/4 miles, turf
No. PP. Horse (Where Bred) (Sire), Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. 6. Mango Diva (GB) (Holy Roman Emperor) R. Moore, 133, M. Stoute
2. 5. Narniyn (IRE) (Dubawi), C. Soumillon, 133, A, de Royer-Dupre
3. 2. Sultanina (GB) (New Approach), W. Buick, 133, J. Gosden
4. 1. Venus de Milo (IRE) (Duke of Marmalade) J. O'Brien, 133, A. O'Brien
5. 4. Amazing Maria (IRE) (Mastercraftsman), J. Doyle, 124, E. Dunlop
6. 7. Eastern Belle (GB) (Champs Elysees), J. Fortune, 124, J. Gosden
7. 3. Lustrous (GB) (Champs Elysees), R. Hughes, 124, R. Hannon