John and Thady Gosden have a strong hand in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury as their exciting filly Nashwa puts her Cazoo Oaks aspirations to the test under Hollie Doyle in the 10-furlong Listed contest.
The daughter of Frankel is a general 12-1 chance in the Oaks market following an impressive six-and-a-half-length win at Haydock last month.
And with the Clarehaven team already having the top of the betting covered with Musidora winner Emily Upjohn, they could have a real stranglehold on the Epsom Classic if Nashwa impresses on Saturday in her first attempt at a mile and a quarter.
As well as having an entry for Epsom, the Imad Al Sagar-owned three-year-old also figures among the list of possibles for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Thady Gosden believes this weekend will tell the team plenty about where they head next with the talented filly.
“She won well on reappearance at Haydock over the mile. It’s obviously a step up in grade for her, but she has come on for the run and we’ve been really happy with her at home,” he said.
“Obviously we’ll know where we are after the race in terms of where we’re heading, whether up to a mile and a half or stay at a mile and a quarter.
“She’s a very likeable filly, who is always trying to please. She has a good mind and tries her heart out, like all Frankel’s seem to.”
Nashwa is joined in the line-up by stablemate Bouquet and her joint-trainer is optimistic a line can put through her disappointing end to last season in the Fillies’ Mile.
He continued: “The Fillies’ Mile was a big jump in class for her at the end of last year, but she’s done well over the winter and she’ll appreciate the step up in trip. We’ll see how she gets on.”
Elsewhere on the high-class card, Scope bids to back up his French Group One success as he makes his seasonal debut in the Al Rayan Stakes.
The Group Three contest, commonly known as the Aston Park Stakes, has attracted a select field of six, with Ralph Beckett’s representative out to frank the form that saw him win the Prix Royal-Oak at ParisLongchamp when last seen in October.
That win came on very soft ground over half a furlong short of two miles and underfoot conditions are expected to be much quicker over a mile and a half.
Sixth in the St Leger last season, Scope is on a hat-trick after taking the Listed Noel Murless at Ascot prior to his victory in Paris, and jockey Rob Hornby is looking forward to renewing his partnership with the four-year-old.
He said: “I’m delighted to be getting back on board him, he’s been a bit of a superstar regarding my career. He gave me my first Group One win and that was a huge thing for me. He’s a horse who’s been fantastic, though he’s never really got the rub of the green, I think.
“In the St Leger he was a little bit slowly away. For an inexperienced horse, the day and the occasion might have got to him a little bit. It was a big crowd that day and he got a little bit worked up in the stalls which is very uncharacteristic of him.
“He just missed the break slightly and for a horse whose stamina is key, the last thing you want is to be making up ground when the race is quickening away from you.
“I was delighted to see a drop of rain (earlier in the week) – that will be perfect for him.
“I’ve managed to have a few sits on him in the mornings and he feels great. I sat on him about 10 days ago and I said to Ralph that I think he’s there, he’s fit, so I’m really excited to see where we are with him.”
The Roger Varian-trained Eshaada is another Group One winner who makes the first start of her four-year-old campaign, having taken the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot in October over a similar trip.
Sandown’s Gordon Richards Stakes runner-up Foxes Tales represents Andrew Balding, Newmarket Listed winner Without A Fight (Simon and Ed Crisford) and Qatar Group One scorer Outbox (Archie Watson) provide plenty of depth, with Ilaraab completing the field.
William Haggas hopes last season’s St Simon Stakes winner will strip fitter than when fourth to Max Vega on his seasonal bow in the John Porter over course and distance.
“Ilaraab will be much better for the race, but then it is a much stronger race than the one he ran in before,” said Haggas.
“It will be much more of a test, but he is much tighter for that first run and I would expect to see improvement.”
Richard Hannon would appear to have a leading chance with Ehraz, who takes on eight rivals in the Listed BetVictor Carnarvon Stakes.
Jim Crowley’s mount was well supported upon his seasonal return at Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup Trail last month, but had to settle for third behind Go Bears Go and Hierarchy, with the latter set to reoppose.
Hannon feels he may not have been fully wound up for his first run since August and said: “I thought he looked like he travelled extremely well at Ascot and he didn’t quite finish his race.
“Maybe it was because it was his first run back for a long time and hopefully, he’ll finish off better this time.”