A stellar season for Charlie Appleby and William Buick continued as Wild Illusion made all in the £600,000 Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi was not winning out of turn, having finished fourth in the QIPCO, runner-up in the Investec Oaks and also second in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Buick kept things simple in the – gradually winding up the tempo from the front and dragging his five rivals out of their comfort zones. The 4-1 chance beating Urban Fox (3/1) by two lengths, with Veracious a short-head further back in third.
“Wild Illusion has been rock solid all season. 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,” Appleby said: .”Full credit to all the team at home, and to Michel [Rakotoarisoa] who rides her every day at home and looks after her.
“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.”
The Derby-winning trainer added: “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’s future entries include the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, which is another Champions Series race. “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,” Appleby said.
A delighted Buick, winning the event for the third time (Winsili 2013 and Sultanina 2014), was ecstatic. “Wild Illusion got into a nice rhythm in front and pricked her ears,” he said. “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.
“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.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Rhododendron started 15-8 favourite but 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.”