Channel eyes Nassau challenge

Wednesday 26 June 2019 15:19, UK

Wild Illusion (L, blue) win the Total Prix Marcel Boussac - Criterium Des Pouliches at Chantilly
Image: Wild Illusion (L, blue) win the Total Prix Marcel Boussac - Criterium Des Pouliches at Chantilly

French Oaks winner Channel could try to further enhance an excellent season for her trainer Francis-Henri Graffard in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on August 1.

Graffard enjoyed a memorable few days when Channel landed a narrow head victory over Commes in the fillies' Classic at Chantilly on June 16, before Watch Me added a surprise Coronation Stakes success at Royal Ascot just five days later.

Channel did not make her racecourse bow until March this year, winning a maiden and a conditions event in three starts before taking the leap up to Group One company in her stride.

Graffard is now mulling a couple of top-level options for Channel, with another clash with Newmarket and Curragh 1000 Guineas winner Hermosa at Goodwood in the mix.

The Chantilly-based handler said: "Channel is in very good form and the Nassau Stakes is a possible target.

"We are keeping all our options open with her at the moment and we will make a decision nearer the time. The options are probably the Nassau or the Prix Jacques le Marois (at Deauville).

"If she continues to be fit and well in the coming weeks, then the Nassau could definitely be an aim.

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"The season could centre around preparing her for the Prix de l'Opera in the autumn."

He added: "I would love to have a runner at Goodwood. It is a place I like very much and I think the track will suit her.

"Channel was very impressive in the Prix de Diane and it was very special to win that race before Watch Me's victory at Royal Ascot."

Channel and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Hermosa are among 33 entries for the 10-furlong feature, with the Ballydoyle handler's potential team also including Oaks second Pink Dogwood, multiple Group One winner Magical and last year's Ribblesdale winner Magic Wand.

Further French representation could also come in the shape of the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained duo of Ashtara, a convincing winner on debut and Edisa, who captured a Listed contest at Longchamp on her latest start.

Wild Illusion won the Nassau for Charlie Appleby last year and could try to defend her crown while William Haggas has entered Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up Sea Of Class and Move Swiftly, who was triumphant at Royal Ascot.

Sir Michael Stoute, who is targeting a record-equalling eighth success in the Nassau, has Duke of Cambridge Stakes second Rawdaa and last year's third Veracious engaged along with Sun Maiden and Queen Power.

Ribblesdale winner Star Catcher is one of three entries for John Gosdenl while Japanese raider Deirdre could add an extra international dimension.

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