sport

Venus shoots for Nassau

Aidan O'Brien expressed a slight concern about the 10-furlong trip Venus De Milo will face in Saturday's Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

The four-year-old has run over a mile and a quarter just twice in her nine-race career, winning a Listed race at Naas on her second start and on her most recent outing when second to Thistle Bird in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

Runner up in the Irish Oaks last July, she ran over a mile and three-quarters on her comeback this season behind Missunited in the Saval Beg Stakes.

"She'll love the fast ground. A mile and a quarter is as short as she'd want to go, but she's in good form and she could run here and then go to York (Yorkshire Oaks)," said O'Brien.

"She's in good form. We have to keep her busy as she's a difficult horse to keep fit. It (the trip) is probably as tight as she wants to go, but we think the track will suit her well."

Her main market rival is the French challenger Narniyn, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre.

The Aga Khan-owned filly had won four on the bounce before stepping up in class and trip for the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time out.

She was not disgraced in fourth, beaten two lengths by Arc-bound Spiritjim and Lady Cecil's Noble Mission.

"Narniyn looks very well and she did a good piece of work on Monday," said De Royer-Dupre.

"She did not show her true ability when finishing fourth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time as the race came too soon for her after she had won a Group Three at Longchamp.

"I also feel that she is much better over this mile and a quarter rather than the mile and a half at Saint-Cloud.

"It looks a very open race, the only problem could be the turn and the up and down nature of the course. But there is a long home straight and Narniyn is very easy to ride and has good balance.

"She would prefer good ground - last year she won a Listed race at Chantilly very easily when it was riding good to firm and although she won the (Group Three) Prix de Flore on very soft, I don't think that was ideal for her.

"Goodwood is a beautiful track and I like going there as it is not too far to get to. I have yet to have a winner there but have gone close with both Mandesha (runner-up in this race in 2007) and Jehannedarc (second in the 2012 Lilly Langtry Stakes)."

The Aga Khan's racing manager Georges Rimaud said: "She is a nice filly and it is a case of so far so good.

"She ran an OK race at Saint-Cloud where the ground was a bit too soft for her and the mile and a half is probably a little bit too far.

"I think she will appreciate better ground, so I hope we get that at Goodwood, and the mile and a quarter will be more suitable for her as well."

This time last year Ed Dunlop's Amazing Maria looked to have a very bright future when winning a maiden at this meeting by six lengths.

She returned to Goodwood to win a Group Three but has been held back by a series of minor issues this season, preventing her from running in the Guineas and the only time she has run she was tailed off in the Investec Oaks.

Dunlop said: "I don't want the ground to be rattling, but hopefully the ground is nice as the plan has always been to go to Goodwood.

"The Oaks didn't go as we hoped - it was a bad time for all my horses - and we didn't learn anything because she didn't stay.

"We have been very happy with her recently. She was a very good two-year-old and is obviously two from two at Goodwood, but we are still finding out about her.

"We have always rat ed her very highly and hopefully we will learn something about her at the weekend."

Richard Hannon's Lustrous ran a fine race to be second in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, but she was well beaten in the Irish Oaks last time out.

"Lustrous has plenty on her plate in the Nassau Stakes, but she ran as well as we could have hoped in the Irish Oaks - she split the Epsom Oaks runner-up and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner - and it does not look the strongest renewal," said Hannon on www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.

Sir Michael Stoute runs Mango Diva, a Group Two winner at the Curragh last time out, while John Gosden has declared both Sultanina and Eastern Belle, although there is a doubt about the ground for Sultanina.

Gosden said: "A little bit of rain would make a big difference to Sultanina. She's dropping back in trip but the owner-breeder assures me that it will be fine.

"They are due some (rain) in the morning then it is supposed to stop so the Panama hats don't get soggy.

"Obviously we'd have liked to run The Fugue, then Thistle Bird dropped out, so it's opened up and there's an opportunity.

"Eastern Belle was going to go to America but she just wasn't right before and it was a long way to go with a doubt.

"Eastern Belle will pretty much go on anything. It's a lovely race and it's right to support it."