The Group 1 Nassau Stakes is one of the top ten furlong races of the season for fillies and mares. It takes place at the Glorious Goodwood Festival and often attracts Classic winners. Sir Henry Cecil’s Midday won the race for a record three successive years from 2009 to 2011. Other notable winners include Ouija Board (2006), Legatissimo (2015), Minding (2016) and Winter (2017).
The Nassau Stakes is one of the feature races at Glorious Goodwood in late July or early August. It is currently held on the third day (Thursday) of the five-day summer meeting. There is usually a small field so there are no issues with the draw but the undulations at the Sussex course make this a good stamina test. It is often won by fillies and mares with previous winning form at a mile and a quarter or further.
Famous Nassau Stakes Winners & History
The Nassau Stakes was first run in 1840 with victory going to Rosa Bianca. It was originally over one mile and was confined to three-year-old fillies. The distance was extended to a mile and a half in 1900 before being cut to its present trip in 1911. Fillies and mares aged four or older were permitted to enter from 1975 onwards.
Notable early Nassau Stakes winners include Sceptre (1902) and Pretty Polly (1904). Sceptre remains the only racehorse in history to win four British Classics. She won the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the St Leger at Doncaster. Pretty Polly won the fillies’ Triple Crown of 1000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger during a fifteen race winning streak.
Roussalka (1975 and 1976) became the first dual winner of the Nassau Stakes, a feat replicated by Ruby Tiger (1991 and 1992). Midday then reeled off a hat-trick of victories, her first victory in 2009 making amends for finishing runner-up in both the English and Irish Oaks.
She then won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and followed her 2010 Nassau Stakes triumph with victories in the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille. Her final success here came at the expense of another superstar mare in Snow Fairy, beating that rival by 2 lengths in 2011.
The most thrilling renewal of the Nassau Stakes came in 2006 when Ouija Board edged out Alexander Goldrun by a short-head. The runner-up hit the front narrowly over a furlong out before the two mares battled it out to the line. Ouija Board won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006 in a brilliant globetrotting career, netting over $6million for her owners on her travels.
Key Nassau Stakes Trials
The most productive trials for the Nassau Stakes in recent years have been the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Winsili (2013) and Wild Illusion (2018) had finished fourth and second respectively in the Ribblesdale prior to winning here.
The Epsom Oaks and the Irish Oaks at the Curragh also regularly provides clues to the outcome of the Nassau Stakes. Legatissimo was second in both races before winning here in 2015. Minding won the Epsom Classic and the Pretty Polly Stakes.
Nassau Stakes Betting Trends
Favourites have a good recent record in the Nassau Stakes, winning five of the last twelve. The shortest priced winner was Minding (2016) who returned at 1-5 for Aidan O’Brien. The same trainer also saddled 10-11 favourite Winter (2017).
Midday was an 11-2 chance for her first Nassau win in 2009 but returned favourite for both subsequent victories. Shock results have been known but nine of the last twelve winners came from the first three in the betting. Winsili (2013) and Deirdre (2019) provided 20-1 upsets.
Nassau Stakes Stats
Three-year-olds have a good recent record in this race, winning five of the last seven renewals. Legatissimo (2015), Minding (2016), Winter (2017), Wild Illusion (2018) and Fancy Blue (2020) all won the Nassau after competing in Classic races earlier in the summer. High class five-year-olds can win here, a point illustrated by the recent victories of Deirdre (2019) and Lady Bowthorpe (2021).
Class usually comes to the fore with 10 of the last 12 winners having won at least once at Group 1 to 3 level. An official rating of 111 or higher is usually required to win this, although Winsili (2013) and Sultanina (2014) were below that at 103 and 105 respectively.
Top Trainers and Jockeys
The late Sir Henry Cecil is the all-time leading trainer in the history of the Nassau Stakes with eight winners. He first struck with Roussalka (1975, 1976) and was successful with Connaught Bridge (1979), Nom de Plume (1987) and Lyphard’s Delta (1993). His final three victories came courtesy of Midday (2009, 2010, 2011).
Sir Michael Stoute is only one behind Cecil’s record with seven winners, although he has not won it since a run of three successive victories; Islington (2002), Russian Rhythm (2003) and Favourable Terms (2004). John Gosden also won it three times in a row with The Fugue (2012), Winsili (2013) and Sultanina (2014) while Aidan O’Brien has four victories to his credit to date.
The leading jockeys are Nat Flatman and Sir Gordon Richards who rode six winners apiece. The last of Flatman’s winners was Cantine in 1859 while Sir Gordon struck for the final time aboard Sea Parrot in 1951. The most successful jockeys in recent times have been William Buick and Ryan Moore, each winning it three times in the past nine seasons.
Betting on the Nassau Stakes
The Ante-post betting on the Nassau Stakes usually centres around the Classic form. There are other options for trainers of 1000 Guineas and Oaks fillies at this time of year and the going can be the deciding factor on running plans. It is probably best to hold off on those ante-post bets until a trainer confirms the Nassau Stakes a definite target.
Subsequent targets for the Nassau Stakes winner include the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown and the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp. Legatissimo (Matron 2015) and Wild Illusion (Prix de l’Opera 2018) were successful while Midday won the 2010 Yorkshire Oaks after winning here.
The Nassau Stakes often features Classic fillies from the 1000 Guineas and Oaks, clashing with popular older mares. With outstanding horses like Ouija Board, Midday and Minding on the roll of hour, it is one of the highlights of the Glorious Goodwood Festival.