Gutsy Wild Illusion wins G1 Nassau Stakes in great style

Three-year-old filly Wild Illusion gained a second G1 success with an impressive all-the-way victory in the 10-furlong Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, UK, on Thursday, 2 August.

The Charlie Appleby-trained daughter of Dubawi, winner of the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly, France, in October, broke smartly for William Buick and immediately led from her five rivals.

She quickened with half a mile to race and found more in front as Veracious briefly threatened to challenge the Godolphin filly approaching the final furlong.

Wild Illusion asserted her advantage gamely in the closing stages to beat Urban Fox by two lengths in 2m 6.22s on ground described as good, good to firm in places, with a short-head back to Veracious in third.

Charlie Appleby, delighted with Wild Illusion’s performance, reported: “Wild Illusion has been rock solid all season and was fourth in a Guineas [a mile at Newmarket], second in the Oaks [12 furlongs at Epsom] and second in the Ribblesdale Stakes [12 furlongs at Royal Ascot].

“She was coming into the race as well as I have seen her all season, and I felt that dropping back in trip was going to be her forte. Full credit to all the team at home, and to Michel Rakotoarisoa who rides her every day at home and looks after her.

“After the Oaks, I was happy going into Ascot, but the quicker ground was a concern. Will [Buick] said although the ground has dried up here in the last 24 hours, there is a bit of moisture in there, and he said it is not as quick as Ascot.

“Dropping back in trip I felt was going to help and tactically we couldn’t see where the pace was going to come from, so I asked William to go out there and do what he is good at. He is great on the front end – we have seen that many times before – and he has given her a lovely tactical ride from the front.

“I told him to use her stamina from half a mile out to stretch her rivals, as we know she gets the mile and a half well and would have no problems at this trip. “I am very fortunate to be in this position. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the Royal Family have supported me very well and have been very kind to me.

“It is only my job to try and put these winners on the board at this level. The two-year-olds have started coming to hand now and we need them to do well as we build for next year.” Wild Illusion holds entries in the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, both over 12 furlongs.

The trainer added: “We’ll let the dust settle and, while she’s had a busy campaign, she looks like she’s thriving – when fillies tell you that you map out a plan to suit.

“This has been a stellar season, there is no doubt about it, and everybody is enjoying it. This is where Godolphin should be and hopefully we can keep the momentum going.

“The racing public have been very good. Everyone talks about Godolphin and Coolmore. We are great sporting rivals and as a team we are happy to congratulate them and likewise they congratulate us. It is what we enjoy and it is hopefully what racing enjoys.”

William Buick commented: “Wild Illusion got into a nice rhythm in front and pricked her ears. I was always comfortable where I was in front and she really saw it out well to the line – she is a very tough. No other filly in training deserves this G1 win more than Wild illusion.

“When we were approaching the three-furlong pole, I wanted her to come off the bridle just so we could get on with it and win our race there. She was motoring from there and stayed on really well to the line.

“She’s raced from the front in the past and we were always very comfortable. Wild Illusion really deserved it. She ran very well in the Oaks before finishing second in the Ribblesdale to Magic Wand and Charlie has done a great job with her in keeping her fresh.

“I’ve always felt this filly has been a G1 filly, so it’s great. She has done nothing but improve. When I rode her at home last weekend, she did something pretty special, so we were quite hopeful.

“Charlie has done a fantastic job with her. Every run Wild Illusion has had, she has come forward which for a three-year-old filly is a testament in itself. “She was very good over 10 furlongs there. We’ll get her home before making any decision. It would be nice for her to have a good autumn campaign.

“I think the way we have been riding her in the past has been the correct way, but she has possibly not been running over the right trip.

“I also think on pedigree and the way she is, she is only going to keep developing and progressing hopefully.

“This has been a defining year for all of us in Godolphin. We are guided by Sheikh Mohammed who of course sets very high goals and standards, and we try our best to fulfil them.

“For me personally, winning the Derby was a defining win and it’s lovely, but in this game, although we all enjoy it, you can’t really take your eye off the ball as there is always the next day, the next week, and the next festival. “It is great when you are winning as you know you are doing something right.”