Its No Illusion Wild Is Best For Appleby

Horse Racing | Press Article 16/04/24


Wild Illusion landed her second top-grade victory when winning the feature race on day three of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes.

Dropping back to a mile and a quarter seemed to suit the Godolphin-owned three-year-old filly, who was taking on older rivals for the first time, and whose two most recent runs had come over a mile and a half. Her fine efforts this season in Group One races made her a deserved winner of this prize, and no less pleasing for her owner, Sheikh Mohammed, was that she is a daughter of his outstanding stallion Dubawi.

Wild Illusion (4/1) made all the running under William Buick before beating Urban Fox (3/1) by two lengths, with Veracious a short-head back in third.

Winning trainer Charlie Appleby said: "Wild Illusion has been rock solid all season and was fourth in a Guineas [at Newmarket], second in the Oaks [at Epsom] and second in the Ribblesdale Stakes [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 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, both races being run over 12 furlongs, but Appleby said no plan would be made at this stage. He said: "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."

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Rhododendron (15/8 favourite) ran poorly and finished last of the six runners. O'Brien was absent, but Kevin Buckley, who represents Coolmore Stud in the UK, said: "She ran flat, and that's not like her. She was disappointing, but we'll get her home and check her out. The pace was slow early, but I'm not using that as an excuse, and Ryan [Moore] said she just didn't sparkle."


Godolphin's Wild Illusion (4/1) made all to land the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes for trainer Charlie Appleby and William Buick.

The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi displayed a tenacious attitude in the home straight to fend off all challengers, eventually scoring by two lengths from the William Haggas-trained Urban Fox (3/1) in second.

Wild illusion was fourth in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, before finishing second when the 5/2 favourite for the Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs on June 2. She also finished second in the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A delighted Buick, winning the G1 event for the third time (Winsili 2013 and Sultanina 2014), was ecstatic that the three-year-old filly had landed the G1 contest.

He said: "Wild Illusion got into a nice rhythm in front and pricked her ears. I was always comfortable where I was and she really saw it out well to the line - she is a very tough. No other filly in training deserves it 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 is 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."


William Haggas' charge, Urban Fox (3/1), pleased her trainer in the £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, the feature race on Ladies' Day at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, in which she came home the two-length second to Wild Illusion (4/1).

The Newmarket trainer said: "I am very pleased with her. Danny [Tudhope] said the winner (Wild Illusion) has just kept on finding and he could never get to her. The winner has won well.

"Our filly stayed OK - she ran a very solid race. It was a strong field; there was a Classic winner from last year, a Classic winner from this year, an Oaks runner-up...

"I don't see the need [for her to step up in distance]. I have put her in the Prix Jean Romanet (Deauville, 1¼m). It is a bit soon, but it is four-year-olds and up, which might be a bit more appealing than giving away weight. I am not complaining about the weight-for-age allowance.

"That could just prove to be her best run."

Frankie Dettori, on third placed Veracious, a short-head further back, said: "It was her first time over a mile and a quarter. She didn't settle that well at the beginning, but she ran well."

Chris Richardson, managing director of owner/breeder Cheveley Park Stud, said: "We're very happy, it is the first time she's had a proper race.

"She did very well. Frankie (Dettori) said she was a bit immature, a bit green and got a little intimidated, but overall we're very happy.

"We will review whether we're going to stay at a mile and a quarter or drop back to the mile, so we've got those options to consider."

3.35pm £600,000 G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, 1m 1f 197y

(Part of QIPCO British Champions Series)         

1 (6) Wild Illusion (Sheepskin C/P) Charlie Appleby 8st 13lb William Buick 4/1

2 (2) Urban Fox William Haggas 9st 7lb Daniel Tudhope 3/1

3 (1) Veracious Sir Michael Stoute 8st 13lb Frankie Dettori 5/1

4 (5) Billesdon Brook Richard Hannon 8st 13lb Tom Marquand 15/2

5 (3) Wilamina (IRE) Martyn Meade 9st 7lb Oisin Murphy 16/1

6 (4) Rhododendron (IRE) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 7lb Ryan Moore 15/8 Fav

Winner owned & bred by Godolphin

6 ran

Time: 2m 06.22s

Distances: 2, sh, 1¼, ½, 5

Breeding: 3 b f Dubawi (IRE) - Rumh (GER) (Monsun (GER))

Tote Win: £5.00 Places: £2.60; £1.90 Exacta: £16.60

Charlie Appleby - 20 Goodwood winners (7 at Qatar Goodwood Festival)

William Buick - 60 Goodwood winners (20 at Qatar Goodwood Festival)