Nathaniel stamps class in Eclipse return Sun, 08 Jul 2012
Nathaniel has laid to rest any lingering ideas he is not a legitimate championship performer by making a scintillating return to the track in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
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 in-form trainer has the assistance of a jockey sitting on the crest of the same wave in William Buick. A giant effort was still required from Nathaniel (7-2) as he refused to relinquish his lead to the 11-4 favourite Farhh in a final furlong battle.
Farhh was promoted to favouritism when defending titleholder So You Think was ruled out of the Eclipse due to lameness.
Nathaniel got as close to champion Frankel as any horse has managed so far when beaten just half a length in a now-memorable Newmarket maiden in August 2010.
Gosden said he was not averse to another clash with Frankel and will bide his time before committing the four-year-old to a defence of his King George title at Ascot on July 21.
Nathaniel completed a memorable day for owner Lady Rothschild, who had three Gosden-trained winners in the space of an hour.
"He's a super horse, but it has been very difficult to get him right as he has had a respiratory problem," Gosden said. "He's put in a massive effort here, so we will just have to have a good think about whether we run again (so soon). 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."
Nathaniel's win came a short time after his younger sister Great Heavens had won the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in the Rothschild colours, with Trade Commissioner also obliging at Sandown for the same connections.