By Racinguk.com staff
Dual Classic winner and Royal Ascot heroine Winter takes a step into the unknown in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Thursday but her task became considerably easier on Wednesday afternoon when Nezwaah, Shuter Speed and Wuheida were pulled out because of the worsening ground conditions.
The brilliant Minding provided trainer Aidan O'Brien with a third success in the 10-furlong showpiece last year and following her recent retirement due to injury, Winter has big boots to fill.
The three-year-old daughter of Galileo has emphatically proved herself the best of her generation over a mile by completing the English-Irish 1000 Guineas double, after which she landed the Coronation Stakes in June.
O'Brien is confident the step up to a mile and a quarter will not hinder his latest star filly.
"It's her first time over a mile and a quarter but she is in good form," said the Ballydoyle handler.__ Winter is seeking a fourth successive Group One win __
"We always thought she was a very high-class filly. From the first time she ran she has progressed with every run.
"We were delighted with all three of her Group One wins and have been impressed all three times. You can never be sure that she will get the mile and a quarter, but she is by Galileo, which is obviously a big help."
O'Brien also saddles Hydrangea, who beat Winter at Leopardstown in the spring but has proved no match for her esteemed stablemate on her last three starts.
John Gosden is represented by So Mi Dar, who has been out of action since last October, while Sir Michael Stoute calls on Breeders' Cup heroine Queen's Trust, who was last seen finishing a close fourth in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Chris Richardson, racing manager to owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: "She was slowly away from the stalls at Ascot, which is one of her traits, and she did the same last year.
"She got hemmed in when she tried to get a run and was flying at the finish. We definitely felt she could have been a bit closer. You can never take things for granted, but the Nassau is the right race for her and she ran well when she finished second in it last year."
It is a measure of the strength of the field that Andrew Balding's Blond Me, who won at Group Two level for the second time in the Middleton Stakes at York in May, is a 20-1 outsider.