Rhododendron could complete Qatar Nassau Stakes hat-trick for O’Brien

A return to top form would see Ryan Moore’s charge hard to beat

 Trainer Richard Hannon has booked Tom Marquandat to ride the shock 66-1 Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook at Goodwood. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Trainer Richard Hannon has booked Tom Marquandat to ride the shock 66-1 Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook at Goodwood. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty Images

 

Aidan O’Brien has a Qatar Nassau Stakes hat-trick in his sights with Rhododendron, who takes on a small but select field in Thursday’s Group One Goodwood feature.

Successful last year with Winter, and in 2016 with Minding, O’Brien has landed the mile-and-a-quarter fillies highlight four times in all.

In contrast Ryan Moore has never won the Nassau but a peak-form Rhododendron would be top-rated to change that.

The catch is that Rhododendron arrives here on the back of a notably lacklustre effort at Royal Ascot when down the field in the Queen Anne.

Prior to that the filly had secured a third Group One when edging out Lightening Spear in the Lockinge and that form got a perfect boost on Wednesday with Lightening Spear’s Sussex Stakes victory.

A repeat of that effort will make the Irish raider hard to beat and having won the Prix de l’Opera last year – and finished runner-up to Enable in the Oaks – the step up to a-mile-and-a quarter at Goodwood should be in Rhododendron’s favour too.

The six runners are equally divided between older horses and three year olds which include the shock 66-1 Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook.

Her trainer Richard Hannon has booked Tom Marquand to replace the injured Sean Levey and said: “I think she will prefer going a mile and a quarter rather than a mile. I thought immediately after Ascot [Coronation Stakes] she wanted a mile and a quarter.

“She never looked like she was going to win at Ascot and I was a bit disappointed she didn’t go whoosh like she can do.”

The other proven top-flight winners are Godolphin’s Wild Illusion and Urban Fox who landed the Pretty Polly at the Curragh last month over O’Brien’s Oaks winner Forever Together.

“It is a tough race but it is nice to be involved and she has got a definite chance of adding to her win last time,” said Urban Fox’s trainer William Haggas.

“It was a good effort in Ireland but now she has to confirm that performance. We hoped the step up in trip would bring out improvement and it turned out it did,” he added.

On the same card Moore teams up with O’Brien’s Tipperary Listed winner in the Group Two Richmond Stakes but has got off Flattering in the Lillie Langtry Stakes to ride Luca Cumani’s God Given.

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