As a result, she is the 2/1-on favourite and will surely be the cornerstone of many a short-priced Saturday acca. However, it is possible to formulate a staking plan that does not include Minding, who is yet to race on ground faster than good according to Timeform measurements.
As Seventh Heaven proved when beating Even Song et al in the Irish Oaks and, going further back, Qualify landing the Oaks last season at 50/1, there is almost no such thing as an O’Brien upset these days.
With Alice Springs (who also had an entry in the Sussex) seemingly more likely to head to France for Sunday’s Prix Rothschild at Deauville, Ballydoyle looks an obvious second string. Clearly at this stage, it’s a bit of a gamble tipping a horse who might not feature, however her price (16/1) and her profile make her worth chancing.
Ballydoyle is one of only three horses to beat Minding (the others are Tanaza and Jet Setting, on Minding’s debut and in the Irish 1000 Guineas respectively), with that win coming in the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh last August.
Ballydoyle was subsequently second in the Moyglare (behind Minding) before winning the Prix Marcel Boussac on her final start as a juvenile. Making her seasonal reappearance in the 1000 Guineas, Ballydoyle was a creditable three and a half lengths third, value for more on top of the bare result having been caught further back than ideal and having to barge her way out.
She shaped as if still in good form when three lengths sixth on her next start in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly, leaving the impression she should have finished closer having been left poorly placed.
Ballydoyle’s most recent run, in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in America, needs a lot more explaining. She ran no sort of race, eased down by her jockey in the straight and shaping as if amiss. However, she was always on the back foot after a slow start, rushed up into midfield before totally failing to handle the left-handed turns and barging into rivals on more than one occasion.
That was her first start going left-handed and she looked uneasy; this return to a right-handed track looks ideal. It’s also worth noting that horses held up in that race were disadvantaged, with nothing making a real impact from off the pace.
Though 6 lb behind Minding, Ballydoyle is just 1 lb behind stablemate Alice Springs, with that Ballydoyle trio also our 1-2-3 on weight-adjusted ratings. After Ballydoyle, there is 3 lb back to both Beautiful Romance (a four-year-old) and Swiss Range.
The lightly-raced Swiss Range also ran in the Prix de Diane, beaten a similar distance to Ballydoyle but three places further back in ninth. She looked the pick of John Gosden’s original entries, and is the sole entry remaining at the six-day stage – perhaps a clue in itself – for a yard who have won three of the last four renewals.
Prior to France, she made a big impression when breaking her maiden tag at Newmarket’s Craven meeting in April before winning the listed Pretty Polly Stakes on the same course 19 days later.
Jemayel was tenth in the Prix de Diane and is respected. Her trainer Jean-Claude Rouget also has the winner of that race, La Cressionniere, and Coronation Stakes winner Qemah in his care, so it would be unwise to take Jemayel lightly were she to take her chance here.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Beautiful Romance disappointed in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot but has bounced back from similar let-downs in the past, while Queen’s Trust shaped better than the bare result in the Ribblesdale at the same meeting, poorly positioned and asked for her effort too late. She remains capable of better.
Back Ballydoyle each-way at 16/1 in the Nassau Stakes
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase