Buick is left fuming by The Fugue
Jockey makes the wrong choice of ride allowing Hughes to win Nassau Stakes on rejected filly
For a jockey, one of the downsides of riding for a top stable, the sort with the firepower to have more than one runner in a prestige contest, is the potential for embarrassment. Yesterday, it was the turn of William Buick, who could not help but notice, as his mount Izzi Top started to labour in the closing stages of the Nassau Stakes, that the filly flashing past him to victory was his reject The Fugue.
The beneficiary in the saddle was Richard Hughes, who delivered victory in the Group One contest with a perfectly-timed run on a tricky course he understands so well and in the process sealed his third successive title at the meeting. He handed all credit to The Fugue, however. "She," he said with some considerable understatement, "is what I call a good spare ride."
Two furlongs out, the winner had only one of her seven rivals behind her as trailblazing Timepiece showed no signs of slackening her gallop up front. But once Hughes said go, The Fugue took flight, cutting down Timepiece eight strides from the post to take the £105,000 prize by a length, with Oaks winner Was third.
"I'd never ridden her before," said Hughes of the near-black daughter of Dansili, "but when I was going to the start I was struck by the way she floated over the ground with a lovely rhythm about her. In the race, the more I held her in check, the more she wanted to go, just like a wound-up elastic band waiting to be flicked. But I feel very sorry for William."
The Fugue's trainer John Gosden has now won five of the past six top-level females-only races in the European calendar, a sequence that included Izzi Top's Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh last month. "William was torn apart choosing," said Gosden, "but he went with the Group One winner, which he had to, really. In the event, she had no cover and ran with the choke out, which can happen in a smallish field."
For Newmarket-based Gosden, the result meant justice had been done for The Fugue, who was a close, fast-finishing third to Was in the Oaks after being badly hampered. After Epsom, Lord Lloyd-Webber's colour-bearer was a gallant second on too-soft ground at Royal Ascot. "If ever a filly deserved this she did," he said. "The Oaks was just horrendous, and she was undone by half an inch of rain at Ascot – she's a beautiful mover but has tiny ballerina feet, and ballerinas don't dance well on a swamp. But she showed her class today and Richard gave her a typically chilly, effective ride."
A marathon over jumps or a lightning sprint on the Flat both come alike for Graham Lee, who yesterday added the Stewards' Cup on Hawkeyethenoo to the Grand National he won on Amberleigh House eight years ago.
Lee, who switched codes at the start of this year, has also scored at Cheltenham, Punchestown and Galway but the six-furlong dash was his first victory at one of the great Flat festivals.
Hawkeyethenoo, a 9-1 shot trained near Glasgow by Jim Goldie, started on the favoured far side of the course and, after bursting to the front inside the final furlong, held on to take the cavalry charge by a nose from wider-drawn Imperial Guest (25-1). Lui Rey (20-1) was third, just ahead of 7-1 favourite Waffle.
Barely four lengths covered the first 14 home in the valuable handicap.
"That was cool," said Lee. "This horse has taken me to some great places this year – the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, the July Cup at Newmarket - and I'm delighted for him and for Jim, who has given me such good chances."
Six-year-old Hawkeyethenoo, who picked up £62,250, was only the second winner for his trainer since the end of June. "Not a bad race to finally get some luck in," said Goldie.
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