Nathaniel Supplemented for King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes
In a somewhat surprising move, trainer John Gosden has supplemented the very exciting Nathaniel for £75,000 to run in this weekend’s Group One, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. The recent winner of the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes over a mile and a half over course and distance last month at the Royal meeting is a rapidly improving three year old, who decimated the field in the King Edward, winning by five lengths. Before that Royal Ascot victory, he suffered a narrow defeat by Treasure Beach, in the Group Three Chester Vase form which has since been franked by the Aidan O'Brien runner who finished second in the Epsom Derby before landing the Irish equivalent.
It had been thought that Nathaniel's next run might come in the St Leger but those plans appear to have changed with connections seemingly thinking that the Galileo Colt is better than they anticipated and a good run on Saturday could put him in line for a tilt at the Arc de Triomphe in October or possibly the Breeders Cup Classic in November.
Bookmakers are quoting Nathaniel at around the 9/1 to win the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, clearly uncertain whether this step up in class and taking on older rivals will be a little too much to ask. This is particularly so with the field containing 2010 Epsom Derby and ‘Arc’ winner, Workforce, who Bookmakers report has been well backed to win the race.
Workforce is coming into the race after a solid performance over ten furlongs in the Group One, Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, where he came a close second behind the Australian superstar, So You Think. Since that run there has been several very encouraging gallop reports suggesting that the four year old is back to his very best. Currently he is around 2/1 to win on Saturday a fraction behind favourite, St Nicholas Abbey from the Aidan O’Brien stable of Ballydoyle.
St Nicholas Abbey looked very impressive when winning the Group One Coronation Cup at Epsom where he was all out to just beat the flying filly, Midday, who opposes again in this. Whilst that run at Epsom looked solid at the time, Midday has since been beaten again, this time in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh where she finished six lengths behind the Ballydoyle filly, Misty For Me, winner previously of the Irish 1000 Guineas and St Nicholas Abbey must still prove he is capable of producing the promise he showed as a juvenile adter missing his three year old campaign after flopping on his only start last season.
St Nicholas Abbey is rated much higher than Misty For Me in the Ballydoyle pecking order which is why it seems hard to fathom why he could only defeat Midday by a length which Misty For Me achieved by six!
The other principle contender for the ‘King George’ is the Godolphin entry, Rewilding, who got up to beat So You Think in the 10 furlong Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That was a career best performance for the 2010 St Leger favourite, who also won the Group One Sheemah Classic over a mile and a half in March at Meydan. He looks equally competent at both ten and twelve furlongs and the stable are expecting a big run to match the victory of Blue Bunting in the Irish Oaks last week at the Curragh. Godolphin will also be running Debussy who is the rank outsider of the field.
All in all, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes looks set to be a thriller and should provide many clues for the remainder of the season, the big question though is whether the young pretender, Nathaniel, can justify his entry fee and take advantage of a 12lb advantage against his older rivals; at a cost of £75,000 ($121,000) it would be foolish to write his chances off!