Sunday, 8 July 2012
: Nathaniel laid to rest any lingering ideas that he was not a legitimate championship performer by making a scintillating return to the track in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park.
Photo by Racing and Sports
Never quite given due credit for winning what was widely considered an unsatisfactory King George last summer, the colt had suffered an interrupted preparation in the early parts of this year and John Gosden had been playing down his chances on his first start since October.
The Newmarket trainer has barely been more dominant in his long career and has the assistance of a jockey sitting on the crest of the same wave in William Buick, but it still required a giant effort from Nathaniel (7-2) as he refused to relinquish his lead to the 11-4 favourite Farhh in a thrilling final-furlong battle.
Nathaniel got as close to the incredible Frankel as any horse has managed so far when beaten just half a length in a now-memorable Newmarket maiden in August 2010 and intriguingly, Gosden was not averse to another clash and will bide his time before committing to a defence of the King George at Ascot on July 21.
Nathaniel was completing a memorable day for owner Lady Rothschild, who had three Gosden-trained winners in the space of an hour including Great Heavens in the Lancashire Oaks, while the colt is named after one of the youngest members of the esteemed financial dynasty.
Buick was evidently anxious to make the most of his mount's stamina over a mile and a quarter and once he had removed the threat of Farhh's pacemaker City Style, he had established a position in the lead with three furlongs remaining.
Frankie Dettori was soon on the scene, not prepared for Farhh to be an apparently unlucky loser again as in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, but whatever he threw at Buick was batted back up the home straight and he was resisted by half a length.
Gosden said: "He's a super horse, but it has been very difficult to get him right as he has had a respiratory problem. It's two weeks to the King George and that's not great. He's put in a massive effort here, so we will just have to have a good think about whether we run again. Next week will tell us more.
"It will be fun to take on Frankel once more, as there was only half a length between them in a maiden a long time ago. I love Frankel, and they are two lovely horses. The Juddmonte (International) would be an option, as would the Champion Stakes at the end of the year."
Buick, who continues to look like a champion jockey in the making, said: "He's a horse that put me on the map last year and he has repaid me again, but you have to say that was a fantastic training performance from John Gosden. To get the horse here in the shape he was in, all credit to John."
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