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Glorious Goodwood countdown: Hermosa heading for Nassau as O'Brien assembles strong squad

Tue 23 Jul 2019

Aidan O’Brien senses the time is right to step Hermosa up to a mile and a quarter for next week’s Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Hermosa could have headed for the French Oaks over that distance, after winning the English and 2000 Guineas, but O’Brien decided to delay the move and stick to a mile for last month’s Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot instead.

She had to settle for second place behind Watch Me on that occasion, but lost little in defeat and heads to the Sussex Downs in good form.

Watch what Martin Dixon and Nick Lightfoot made of Hermosa's Irish Guineas triumph

“That’s the plan, to run her in the Nassau – that is what we are looking at,” said O’Brien. “Everything seems well with her, so we are thinking of going up to a mile and a quarter.

“She was going to go to France for the French Oaks, then we decided to go for the Coronation instead.

“We were very happy with her run at Ascot. I think she is very straightforward. She is happy to lead, like she did in the Guineas, or she is happy to sit in.”

O’Brien may have a second Nassau contender in Just Wonderful, who has finished well behind Hermosa three times this season and was second in the Belmont Oaks in New York when trying 10 furlongs for the first time.

“Just Wonderful is a possible as well,” he said. “She ran in America last time and ran well over the trip – and she is comfortable over that trip.”

Circus Maximus, winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes, could be added to the field for the Qatar Sussex Stakes at the supplementary stage.

“At the moment that is what we are thinking of doing, supplementing him for the Sussex Stakes, because we were delighted with him at Ascot,” said O’Brien.

“It was always a possibility that he would come back to a mile – earlier in the year, he was left in the Guineas until a late stage.

“I think it is a testament to his class, what he did coming back in trip. It is possible that we might go further with him in the future.”

Never No More has been out of action since beating Madhmoon at Leopardstown in April, but he could join Circus Maximus in the Sussex.

O’Brien said: “Never No More is another possible for the Sussex Stakes. He is back in full work and nearly ready to go.

“He had a little hold-up after Leopardstown, and it took him a little bit of time to get back fit again. He is one of the more unexposed horses.”

Southern France could have a second shot at Stradivarius in the Qatar Goodwood Cup next Tuesday.

The four-year-old was runner-up to John Gosden’s brilliant stayer in the Yorkshire Cup in May and has been beaten twice elsewhere since.

Curragh Races - Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas Raceday

O’Brien said: “I suppose horses like Southern France and some of those three-year-olds are possible for that. We will get a little bit closer before making anything definite.

“We’re happy to go back up in trip after the Hardwicke, and he seems to have come out of that well.

“He ran very well at York over a mile and three-quarters earlier in the year, so we think he should be comfortable enough over two miles at Goodwood.

“It is possible that Constantinople might go for the mile-and-a-half race (Gordon Stakes) on the Thursday, but South Pacific could be a possible for the Goodwood Cup.”

Plans for several other O’Brien horses entered for Goodwood remain undecided.

Le Brivido (left) was a Royal Ascot winner, before joining the Ballydoyle team
Le Brivido (left) was a Royal Ascot winner, before joining the Ballydoyle team

He said: “ Le Brivido might go to France for the Maurice de Gheest (on August 4), but we will decide that later in the week – and we might not end up having a runner in the Lennox.

“There is the Vintage Stakes also on the Tuesday, and we have four in that at the moment. Armory could be a possible for that and Lope Y Fernandez is also a possible for that race.

“I’m not sure Sergei Prokofiev will be ready to run in the King George. We have a few others in it, like So Perfect, but I’m not sure if we will have a runner in it. Fairyland might not go there either, because she has had a little bit of an easy time since the July Cup.”

O’Brien has already ruled Royal Lytham and Arizona out of his Goodwood team.

“Royal Lytham is not in contention to come over because it was a Group Two he won, the July Stakes, and he will go into a Group One next time, we think,” he said.

“He could end up in the Phoenix Stakes. Arizona will head either to Deauville for the Morny, or the Phoenix.”

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