Goodwood Cup, Sussex Stakes and Nassau fields are full of quality

Roger Varian
Roger Varian
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Glorious Goodwood's biggest races are taking shape - with some high-class fields set to run.

The six-day confirmations are out for the three Group One (G1) highlights during the 2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival, which starts on Tuesday, August 1 and concludes on Saturday, August 5.

Dual Classic-winning filly Winter (Aidan O'Brien IRE) is on course to face her elders for the first time and step up in trip in what is shaping up to be an excellent renewal of the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes (11 confirmations) over 10 furlongs on Thursday, August 3.

Winter has looked imperious in her three starts over a mile this year, latterly brushing aside stablemate Roly Poly in the G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, following two impressive Classic victories.

Sir Michael Stoute could bid to equal Sir Henry Cecil's record of eight Qatar Nassau Stakes triumphs with last year's Breeders' Cup heroine Queen's Trust, while fellow Newmarket trainer John Gosden has confirmed the returning So Mi Dar and exciting three-year-old Shutter Speed as he bids for a fourth victory in six years.

Another Newmarket handler Roger Varian is excited by the prospects of Nezwaah. The four-year-old is two from two so far this season and came of age last time out in the 10-furlong G1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, on July 2, powering clear of Rain Goddess (Aidan O'Brien IRE) in the closing stages to win by three and a quarter lengths.

Varian said today: "I have been very happy with Nezwaah since she won the Pretty Polly.

"She is in great form and we are looking forward to next week.

"Her performance in Ireland is what we always thought she was capable of and it was very pleasing to see it.

"It looks like the Qatar Nassau Stakes is going to be a hot race next week, with Winter, John Gosden's fillies, and a Breeders' Cup winner in Queen's Trust possibly lining up, but Nezwaah certainly deserves her place in the field considering how well she won at the Curragh.

"We are looking forward to competing and seeing how she fares."

The 11 confirmations also include the Godolphin pair of Wuheida and Sobetsu (both Charlie Appleby), plus G2 Middleton Stakes victor Blond Me (Andrew Balding).

The most lucrative race of the week, the G1 Qatar Sussex Stakes (15 confirmations), which offers £1 million in prize money on Wednesday, August 2, is set to feature a mouth-watering clash of the generations between four-year-old Ribchester (Richard Fahey) and three-year-old Churchill (Aidan O'Brien IRE).

Ribchester has established himself as the leading older miler in Europe with G1 triumphs in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, while dual 2000 Guineas victor Churchill has a point to prove after blotting his copybook behind Barney Roy (Richard Hannon) in the G1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O'Brien's six remaining entries also feature St James's Palace Stakes runner-up Lancaster Bomber, as well as recent G2 scorer Spirit Of Valor, though the latter is more likely to contest the £300,000 G2 Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs on August 1.

There is set to be French representation in the Qatar Sussex Stakes courtesy of the Al Shaqab Racing-owned Zelzal (Jean Claude-Rouget FR), winner of the G1 Prix Jean Prat in 2016 and an encouraging second on his return in the G3 Prix Bertrand du Breuil at Chantilly on June 18.

The big race on the opening day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, Tuesday, August 1, is the £523,000 G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup, in which Big Orange (Michael Bell) has the chance become the first horse ever to win the two-mile contest three times in succession.

The popular six-year-old comes into the race on the back of a career-best performance in the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot when he repelled defending champion Order Of St George by a short-head.

Potential opposition includes 2015 G1 St Leger heroine Simple Verse, unexposed three-year-old Stradivarius (John Gosden) ,who was successful in the G2 Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot on his latest start, and Northumberland Plate victor Higher Power (James Fanshawe).

Desert Skyline (David Elsworth) was supplemented at a cost of £25,000 following his good second to Raheen House in the G3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on July 13.

The 2017 renewal of the Qatar Goodwood Cup is the first as a G1 contest, after being promoted from G2 status.

All three of the G1 contests run at the Qatar Goodwood Festival are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.