O’Brien wants Winter warmer

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Winter

Dual Classic winner and Royal Ascot heroine Winter takes a step into the unknown in what looks an enthralling renewal of the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

The brilliant Minding provided trainer Aidan O'Brien with a third success in the 10-furlong showpiece 12 months ago and following her recent retirement due to injury, Winter has big boots to fill.

The three-year-old daughter of Galileo has emphatically proved herself the best of her generation over a mile by completing the English-Irish 1000 Guineas double, after which she landed the Coronation Stakes in June.

O'Brien is confident 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.

"You can never be sure that she will get the mile and a quarter, but she is by Galileo, which is obviously a big help."

O'Brien also saddles Hydrangea, who beat Winter at Leopardstown in the spring but has proved no match for her esteemed stablemate on her last three starts.

John Gosden is another to fire a formidable twin assault as he bids to win the prize for a fifth time, although Shutter Speed will not run if there is significant rain.

Shutter Speed won her first three starts, including a victory over her dual Oaks-winning stable companion and last weekend's stunning King George winner Enable.

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The daughter of Dansili was last seen finishing fourth in the French Oaks, but has been passed over by Frankie Dettori in favour of So Mi Dar, who has been out of action since last October, with Pat Smullen taking the mount on Shutter Speed.

Winter is just one of five Group One winners in the nine-strong field.

Sir Michael Stoute calls on Breeders' Cup heroine Queen's Trust, who was last seen finishing a close fourth in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Chris Richardson, racing manager to owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: "She was slowly away from the stalls at Ascot, which is one of her traits, and she did the same last year.

"She got hemmed in when she tried to get a run and was flying at the finish. We definitely felt she could have been a bit closer.

"She will go for the Nassau now. You can never take things for granted, but it is the right race for her and she ran well when she finished second in it last year."

Roger Varian is represented by recent Pretty Polly Stakes winner Nezwaah, while Charlie Appleby runs Sobetsu and Wuheida, both top-level scorers in France.

Nezwaah could not have been more impressive at the Curragh a month ago and Varian feels she merits her place in the line-up for the latest leg of the Qipco British Champions Series.

Varian said: "I've been very happy with her since she won in Ireland and she really looks terrific. She's in great form.

"She has to step up again in a very strong renewal, but that's as it should be in these championship races. With the exception of Minding, there are not many missing and it will be exciting to see how she fares.

"Winter has won two Classics and a Coronation Stakes, and she will be a hard nut to crack if she gets the extra two furlongs.

"There are some other very good fillies in there as well, but what we crave is to be involved in these races. It's nice to to take a good animal to a good race like this.

"She's not flashy in her work at home but good enough. She's professional and saves it for when she needs it."

Wuheida ran a fine race after a nine-month absence to fill the runner-up spot behind Roly Poly in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago.

"It went through our minds about sticking to a mile as William (Buick) thought she still had the pace for it, but she is a filly that we looked at all winter as a potential Oaks filly," said Appleby.

"I am looking forward to stepping her up to 10 furlongs now. I appreciate it is a good field, but she is not going to look out of place in the line-up."

It is a measure of the strength of the field that Andrew Balding's Blond Me, who won at Group Two level for the second time in the Middleton Stakes at York in May, is a 20-1 outsider.

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