NATHANIEL hit the crossbar in Saturday’s epic King George – as did Horses For Courses with our six points win at 3-1.
But I reckon we’ll be getting it back – there was no disgrace in defeat for the gutsy, brave and iron-like Nathaniel who looks a fair price at 7-1 for the Arc.
And before that what a day beckons at York racecourse on Wednesday, August 22 with the Juddmonte International set to offer a match up between Nathaniel and Frankel.
Saturday’s Ascot showpiece was described by Cheshire trainer Tom Dascombe as the best race in the world so far this season over one mile four furlongs.
He wasn’t wrong – with all but four of the 10-strong field already Group One winners though, ironically, it was a horse without a top-level victory to his name that went off favourite in Sea Moon.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was billed as one of the race’s big three alongside St Nicholas Abbey and Nathaniel and most thought the winner would arrive from within that trio.
I certainly did and my first piece of racing prose for our sister paper the Yorkshire Post on Saturday concentrated on the three main protagonists to sit alongside an interview with Brown Panther’s trainer Dascombe.
Of course we all know what happened next – something totally different obliged and didn’t Yorkshire Post sub-editor Robert Gledhill let me know about it on Monday morning though in fairness it had been stated how Danedream was the top-rated animal in the race!
The problem with the German mare was that she ran a shocker in France last time out though connections clearly had last year’s Arc winner back to her brilliant best.
But what a run from Nathaniel who for me emerges as unquestionably the best horse in the race for two main factors – firstly when considering how much he sweated up beforehand and secondly given that the contest was his second tough race in the space of two weeks.
In my eyes, there’s no doubt that a fresh Nathaniel would have beaten Danedream at the weekend and it is to his credit that he got within a nose of landing Saturday’s prestigious prize – which is the official minimum margin in British horse racing.
All the vibes beforehand were that the John Gosden runner would be out the frame – he was sweating profusely and drifting in the betting – yet this battler again gave his all and very nearly pulled off a famous quickfire double.
The four-year-old must have been shattered inside the final furlong given that he only landed the Eclipse 14 days ago but under no circumstances did he throw in the towel under a power-packed ride from the ever-impressive William Buick.
The horse’s attitude is exemplary and while Frankel and Camelot are the glamour horses in training, there is a big case to say that Nathaniel is the most popular.
He puts his head down and tries and it’s eerie how similar he is to full sister Great Heavens – another horse who tried her heart out to land Sunday’s Irish Oaks – again under class act Buick.
Nathaniel and Buick ultimately had to settle for second 24 hours earlier and it might be the same again next month when he meets the mighty Frankel in the Juddmonte International at York.
You can’t really see Nathaniel beating the brilliant Frankel but he’ll certainly give him a race and the odds look a bit lopsided – Frankel around 1-2 on Betfair with Nathaniel about 9s.
Mind, you then have to ask yourself, would you really offer anybody anything better than 1-2 about the once-in-a-lifetime Frankel?
Whatever happens, the showdown is going to be a cracker and at least Frankel will be out of the way come the Arc De Triomphe where Camelot might be Nathaniel’s spanner-in-the-works.
Still, nobody ever said landing these prestigious Group One prizes was easy and in Nathaniel’s three remaining targets for the season he is going to meet a superstar.
Frankel if he does indeed run in the Juddmonte, Camelot in the Arc and probably both in the Champion Stakes.
Frankel, Camelot AND Nathaniel – now that really would be the best race in the world.
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