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Nazeef bounces back to her best to land Sun Chariot at Newmarket

Sat 3 Oct 2020

Watch a full replay of how the John Gosden-trained filly won the Newmarket showpiece under Jim Crowley

Nazeef doubled her Group One tally as she returned to winning form in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

John Gosden's filly, striking on the eve of stable star Enable's bid for a historic third Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp, produced a determined late challenge under Jim Crowley to beat Half Light and Cloak Of Spirits by a length and a half and a neck.

Nazeef (17-2) had capped a winning sequence of six in succession when she struck for the first time at the top level over the July Course in the Falmouth Stakes three months ago.

That was over this same distance of a mile, before she twice came up short at 10 furlongs in the highest grade at Goodwood and Deauville.

Gosden discussed Nazeef's win plus gave updates on his Arc hopes Enable and Stradivarius to Nick Luck

But Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's four-year-old appeared to relish rain-softened conditions on her return to Newmarket, challenging inside the final furlong to see off the runner-up, who had been supplemented for the race by French trainer Henri-Alex Pantall.

Gosden said: "They had a 100 millimetres of rain in Deauville and it was like an ice rink - she couldn't get her foot in, so Frankie looked after her. She came out of the race well and we were able to come here back to a mile.

"I think she gets a mile and a quarter, but she got confused and lost her balance a little coming down the hill in the Nassau to run on late and be third. She is a grand filly that is very brave.

"For Newmarket this is soft, it is quite testing by our standards here. I think she asserted well in the last 50 yards. She is a tough filly.

"She was in handicaps last year. She won a handicap in great style at Chelmsford last backend. We decided then, with permission of her owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan, to keep her in training to win a Listed race, which she did immediately in the Snowdrop.

"She then went on to the Duke of Cambridge, then the Falmouth and then the trainer got carried away - but she will get a mile and a quarter - and then to win this one her.

"It has been a fantastic year for her. I think it was a career best. In the Falmouth it was heads and necks and she battled by a neck. She is gritty and an assertive filly."

Gosden will now consider the options for Nazeef with her owner.

Jim Crowley gives his verdict

He added: "It's up to the owner-breeder and he may decide to send her to the breeding sheds. He may decide to run her next year or have a run in America. I think the key thing is the next 10 days - she will tell us if she wants to do any more or not.

"You never think you are going to go from a Chelmsford handicap to knocking off two Group Ones at Newmarket, but she is a willing filly to train. She is quite lazy in her work and looks after herself.

"She is not one of those horses that wants to over do and I think that is a big factor with her.

"Those are the options - retire, race next year or Breeders' Cup. I'm pretty sure she has a QEII entry and that is another one you can look at. We will put them all on the table and see what we want to do."

James Willoughby's view on the sectional timings for the 2020 Sun Chariot:

This was a strong field, for sure, and an exciting race was on the cards, albeit one run in conditions which any exiles from the above-mentioned island and its balmy archipelago would find starkly different from back home.

NAZEEF, drawn in stall 12 of 12, bounced back to her midsummer form back over her best trip of a mile. She remains unbeaten at the trip after six races, one of which was the Falmouth Stakes on the July course, also run on soft going.

They split into two groups again and the credit here must go the French raider Half Light who did best of the far-side contingent, having exited from stall 1. The daughter of world-class Shamardal was touched off by the Mark Johnston-trained Dark Vision in a G2 at Baden-Baden and underlined the merit of that run behind the Royal Hunt Cup winner with this effort. The placings were completed by stall 9-graduate Cloak of Spirits, the 1000 Guineas-second who had won a Listed race at the Cambridgeshire meeting last time.

Nazeef stopped the clock at for the full mile at 1min 42.21. There have been 21 renewals of the Sun Chariot since it was switched back from a mile and a quarter in 2000 and this was the slowest by staggering 3.38sec. The soft (and softening) conditions were clearly the cause of this, as the race appeared to be run at a decent gallop.

The Course Track sectionals confirmed as much. Nazeef recorded a come-home sectional of 38.50sec which is 99.56% of race speed – close to the ideal for the course and distance (under soft or heavy conditions) according to the Course Track system.

In the opening two-year-old maiden, the winner Mystical Dawn came home faster, in 37.96sec using a final furlong of 13.12sec. For her part, Nazeef was the best part of a second slower than that. And Nazeef’s final time was only 2.5sec faster, even though it was the more truer-run contest, so in comparing the two races on the clock objectively, we cannot make the same allowance for conditions; it was clearly more testing by this stage.

Those behind Nazeef were tiring more than she was. Apart from the possibility of a track bias, it is hard to promote any runner too much on the basis of the run of the race. No, Nazeef completed the Newmarket Group One double for her sex on merit, even if backers of Half Light may claim it wasn’t quite a fair fight on the day.

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