08/01/2007 11:00PM

Five make Nassau compelling at Goodwood


Last year's Nassau Stakes produced one of the great races of the year when Ouija Board outgamed Alexander Goldrun in a scintillating stretch-long duel. Saturday's renewal at Goodwood promises to be just as exciting, as the Group 1, $405,000 Nassau has attracted five Group 1-winning fillies and mares from three different countries.

Nannina ran the race of her life when she was third, just two lengths back, in last year's Nassau. Her trainer, John Gosden, firmly believes that she is at her best going the 1 1/4 miles of the Nassau despite her two Group 1 victories coming in the 2005 Fillies Mile and the 2006 Coronation Stakes, also at a mile.

While Nannina will not have Ouija Board or Alexander Goldrun to contend with, she will have to deal with Mandesha, the winner of three Group 1 races, among them last October's Prix de l'Opera over the Nassau distance of 1 1/4 miles.

But Mandesha, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, has not looked as sharp as she was last year, having struggled to win the Group 2 Prix Corrida, then finishing second in her first try against males in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Back to her best distance, however, and with Christophe Soumillon on board, she looks like the one to beat as the 9-4 favorite at the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

Speciosa is expected to set the pace. Winless since her May 2005 victory in the 1000 Guineas, she ran her best race since then when she was two lengths second in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on June 30.

But the horse who beat her in the Pretty Polly is the one they all have to fear. Peeping Fawn, a Danehill filly from the family of Jazil and Rags to Riches, followed her Pretty Polly triumph by exacting vengeance on her English Oaks conqueror, Light Shift, in the Irish Oaks. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, she is equally adept at 10 or 12 furlongs, and with the red-hot Johnny Murtagh in the saddle, is the main threat to Mandesha.

Light Shift herself cannot be discounted. While the four-length beating she took from Peeping Fawn in the Irish Oaks does not compare favorably with her half-length victory over the same filly in the English Oaks six week earlier, Henry Cecil will have his Kingmambo filly ready to roll over a distance she just may prefer to 1 1/2 miles.