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Winsili springs a surprise in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes

3 Aug 2013

Winsili, trained by John Gosden and ridden by William Buick, sprang a 20-1 surprise in this afternoon's Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes, the biggest-priced winner of the race for over 40 years.

Winsili holds off Thistle Bird with Sajjhaa, who finished fourth, in behind. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Not since 1993 had there been a winner at a double-figure price in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes and you have to go back to 1972, when the race was open only to three-year-olds, to find a bigger-priced winner than the John Gosden-trained Winsili, who triumphed this afternoon at odds of 20-1.

Sky Lantern, the hot favourite, may have won had her path not been blocked over a furlong from home and again just inside the final furlong – ironically the 25-1 winner in 1972, Crespinall, was trained by Richard Hannon who will be cursing his luck with Sky Lantern today.

His star filly was the controversial loser of the Etihad Airways Falmoith Stakes last time, when again beaten by a Gosden-trained filly, Elusive Kate.

Winsili was stepping up to Group 1 level for the first time at Glorious Goodwood this afternoon for jockey William Buick and she came home a neck in front of 33-1 shot Thistle Bird.

The proximity of the five-year-old mare, trained by Roger Charlton, who had up to 11 pounds to find on ratings with several of her rivals, brings the value of the form into question, especially with Sky Lantern’s luckless run.

However on only her fifth start, the three-year-old Winsili was entitled to improve, having failed to stay a mile and a half at Royal Ascot last time.

Held up towards the rear, she made good headway over two furlongs from home, challenged over a furlong out and took it up inside the final furlong, holding on well from Thistle Bird who had steered a similar path from the rear.

It made it two Nassaus in a row for Gosden, who had saddled The Fugue to win the race last year.

Hot Snap, who had not raced since her QIPCO 1000 Guineas flop, made late headway to finish two lengths back in third having looked ill at ease on the track when the pace quickened. She is definitely one to watch out for next time.

Sajjhaa led over a furlong out, but could not sustain the run with the luckless Sky Lantern in fifth.

Whether she would have won if she had a clear run is not certain, but she may well have done.

Buick said: "She didn’t stay a mile and a half in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.

"She’s not easy and the whole team do a great job.

"I got a nice run through and she was very game.

"it’s been an up and down week so it’s nice to finish on a high.

"I had plenty of room in straight and she travelled so well.

"I decided to take my time as she has a nice turn of foot."

Gosden said: "We were drawn on the outside which has its disadvantages but it at least meant we weren’t boxed in and got a lovely run round.

"She’s a filly that cannot stand still, she has to be moving. She’s quite strong-minded.

"She’ll stick to a mile-and-a-quarter races for fillies, that will be her programme. There are races like the Prix de l’Opera and the Breeders’ Cup.

"I feel sorry for Sky Lantern, she looks as if she has got trapped.

"She’s a fantastic filly, I admire the Hannons immensely, and the whole Falmouth episode was not pleasant, it was unsatisfactory.

"This wasn’t a fluke. She won well over a mile and a quarter (at Newbury), and at Ascot she just didn’t stay.

"Straight after that we thought we could go for smart races like this."

A disconsolate Richard Hughes said of Sky Lantern: "It was just bad luck – I was going well and just about to come out and I got nailed back in again."