Al Husn got the better of Blue Rose Cen and Nashwa to lift the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.
Christopher Head’s Blue Rose Cen was the 10-11 favourite to add to her Classic wins on home soil in the French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks, with last year’s Nassau heroine Nashwa rated her main threat.
Above The Curve, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, made much of the running and it was from the cut-away in the home straight that drama began to unfold.
French jockey Aurelien Lemaitre, riding at Goodwood for the first time, went for a gap on the far rail aboard Blue Rose Cen, but it was firmly and swiftly slammed in his face by Moore, leaving the market leader all dressed up with nowhere to go in behind.
Hollie Doyle, meanwhile, kept out of trouble aboard Nashwa and she looked likely to follow up her latest Group One triumph in last month’s Falmouth Stakes after quickening up smartly to move to the heels of the leaders.
But her effort flattened in the final furlong, and she was unable to get by the front-running Above The Curve, with Roger Varian’s Al Husn, who beat Nashwa in a Group Three at Newcastle on her most recent outing, also in there pitching.
Ridden by Jim Crowley, Al Husn knuckled down to beat Above The Curve by half a length, with Nashwa the same distance further back in third and Blue Rose Cen close behind her in fourth.
The victory was the latest in a rollercoaster few days for Crowley, after receiving a 20-day suspension and £10,000 following his winning ride aboard Hukum in the same colours in last weekend’s King George at Ascot.
“She’s not a big filly but she’s all heart – she tries so hard,” said the jockey.
“I was very fortunate with the way the race panned out. We had a kind draw and when Ryan went on to make the running, it was the obvious thing to do to sit second and I was effectively in a bit of a pocket on the inside, so I had to be a bit careful with that
“I knew Nashwa was going to come at some point. Two out she stuck her neck down and really battled and really wanted it, which was great.
“Roger’s done a fantastic job with her and she’s just kept on improving all season.”
Varian said: “She’s a remarkable filly, I think she’s won seven of her last eight now. The truth is that none of us really knew how good she was, she’s one of those that just beats what’s in front of her.
“She’s never particularly flashy but she’s got such an admirable attitude and she’s tough. We thought we’d come here and run very well, I’m delighted Sheikha Hissa is here to have a Group One winner with a homebred filly like this – it’s fantastic.
“It’s a fantastic race, it’s steeped in prestige and history. It’s one of the magical races for fillies to win, it’ll be forever in her stud book and hopefully when she’s done racing she can go back to the farm and be a broodmare.”
Considering future plans, the trainer added: “She’s well entered up – she’s in the Prix Jean Romanet in Deauville, she’s in the Yorkshire Oaks over a mile and a half, though I’m not sure about that, and later in the year races like the Prix de l’Opera I’m sure will be considered. Who knows, perhaps we’ll look at the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita (Breeders’ Cup).
“We trained her mum, Hadaatha, who was third in the Prix de l’Opera, and always had faith that Hadaatha would breed a good one.
“You never know, really, if they can perform on the big stage. The majority of them can’t but when you find one that can it is very satisfying.”