Roger Varian trainer of Nausha
©Healy Racing Photos
Nausha claimed a narrow victory in a thrilling climax to the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.
A field of 10 fillies went to post for this recognised trial for the Investec Oaks at Epsom, with John Gosden's impressive Sandown scorer Sparkle Roll the well-backed favourite at 7/4.
I'll Have Another set the pace for a long way, but hung across the track when coming under pressure and those involved in the finish made their challenges down the centre of the track.
Roger Varian's Nausha hit the front racing inside the final furlong and was flanked by the William Haggas-trained Frankellina and Gosden’s apparent second string Entitle - a half-sister to the brilliant Enable.
There was little to choose between the trio as the post loomed, but it was Nausha who gained the verdict under Andrea Atzeni, with Frankellina and Entitle dead-heating for second.
Supporters of both Frankellina and Entitle will justifiably curse their luck, with Frankellina running a huge race to finish so close after blowing the start, and Entitle stumbling inside the closing stages.
Irish raider Fresnel, who won her maiden at Dundalk in February, finished a fine fourth under Gary Halpin for Jack Davidson.
Sparkle Roll, however, was disappointing.
Varian said: "I'm so pleased for her owner, Nurlan Bizakov, he’s such an enthusiast, a great supporter of the game and very patient, so I’m pleased this filly has come good today.
"We had been considering the 1000 Guineas, but we didn't fancy running her in a trial over seven furlongs at Newmarket and went for a conditions race at Kempton over a mile with a view to this race instead.
"She'll be left in the (Epsom) Oaks tomorrow, we’ll see how she comes out of the race and then we’ll consider all the options.
"She's in the Prix Diane in France as well, which is an extended 10 furlongs, so she’s got all the options.
"She’s a very nice filly and I’m delighted she’s won today, so we’ll enjoy it.
Haggas was proud of the performance of Frankellina, as was her owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer.
Haggas said: "I don’t know about the value of the form, but she’s run a very good race.
"We hope there’s more to come. We’ll see where everything fits in, but we’d have settled for that this morning.”
Oppenheimer added: "She’s certainly done enough to earn a place at Epsom, but there may be other places we could go, so we couldn’t possibly make a decision now.
"We’ve no idea what the ground would be like at Epsom or Royal Ascot, but she just ran out of puff, which we thought she might. She’ll be better next time out."
Gosden said of Entitle: "She was very green and on and off the bridle, but Frankie (Dettori) said she was learning all the time. I think she’s a Ribblesdale filly, so that’s where she’ll go.
"She whacked herself and Frankie collected her for a bit before realising she was fine, but she caught herself and took a bad step.
"He thought she’d gone wrong for a few strides, but she hasn’t. She ran a nice race."