Your Guide to the Nassau Stakes

The Nassau Stakes is an integral part of the Glorious Goodwood meeting, which is a festival that takes place in late July and early August. The Nassau Stakes has recently been moved from the last day to become the premier event of day three - Ladies' Day. It is undoubtedly the highlight with a purse of £600,000. This prestigious, 'fillies only' mile is a prime target for top-competitors worldwide.

The Nassau Stakes

The Nassau Stakes is open only to fillies and mares aged three and over and runs over a distance of one mile, one furlong and 197 yards at Goodwood. The course itself is right-handed requiring the thoroughbreds to make a single right turn before climbing the last furlong on the home straight as it inclines testing the endurance of each competitor. The weight requirement varies based on age with the three-year-olds carrying 8st-13lbs and the older horses carrying 9st-7lbs

Fact file

Location: Goodwood Racecourse

Grade: Group 1

Race Type: Flat race

History of the Nassau Stakes

The race was inaugurated in 1840, and was named to honour the connection between the House of Orange-Nassau and the 5th Duke of York who owned the Goodwood Racecourse at the time. The original race was open only to three-year-old fillies and measured only one mile. In 1900, it was lengthened to one and a half miles. The current length was introduced in 1911.

It was not until 1975 that the race accepted entries of fillies and mares over three years of age, and this change lifted the level of competition immensely. In 1999, the race was declared a Group 1 event, having been classified as Group 2 since the classification system came into fruition in 1971. The prize money for the Nassau Stakes has been £600,000 annually since 2015 thanks to a huge injection of cash from its new sponsor Qatar when it took over and invested in the Goodwood Festival, which also includes the Sussex Stakes (as of 2017).

Records

Have a look at some of the top-records set by old and new racing legends. Historically, this event has featured top names in racing making for a rich history not soon forgotten (as of 2017).

  • In over 150 years of running, only three horses have ever achieved more than one win at the Nassau Stakes. These were Roussalka, who won in 1975 and 1976, Ruby Tiger, who took the honours in 1991 and 1992, and finally Midday who did an incredible treble win in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

  • The title of most successful jockey is a shared honour between Nat Flatman and Sir Gordon Richards. Both rode six winners at the Nassau Stakes from 1842 to 1859 and 1933 and 1951 respectively.

  • The most successful trainer in the history of the race is Sir Henry Cecil who won eight times between 1975 and 2011 with five horses including Roussalka, Connaught Bridge, Nom de Plume, Lyphard's Delta, and triple winner Midday.

  • Pretty Polly is still the shortest-priced winner of the Nassau Stakes. She was the 1/33 favourite in 1904.

Best Moments

From the start, top fillies raised the prestige of this event. Some of the racing stars from the earliest years include greats such as La Fleche (1892), Scepter (1902), and Pretty Polly (1904) amongst others. Today, this remains a prestigious race for fillies on the Flat racing calendar. Below are some of the best performances by modern racing champions Ouija Board and Midday (as of 2017).

jockey racing horse
  • Perhaps the most epic rivalry showdown in recent history occurred during the 2006 Nassau Stakes when defending 2005 champion Alexander Goldrun went head-to-head against Ouija Board. The two champion racehorses battled it out in the final three furlongs. Ultimately, Ouija Board won by a short-head becoming the fourth to have done so since 1945.

  • Midday is still the most dominant filly ever to win a Nassau Stakes claiming victory three years in a row between 2009 and 2011. Her first victory was a comfortable two and a quarter lengths ahead of favourite Rainbow View. The following year, Midday started out as the 15/8 favourite and claimed another victory by one and a quarter lengths. Finally, in 2011 she won by two lengths as the 6/4 favourite making for one of the most historic moments of the Nassau Stakes.