Horses To Follow » Nathaniel


Nathaniel was the one to take out of the Chester Vase last week for me. He wasn’t suited by the sedate early pace that Sadler’s Risk set as he had no cover up on the outside. There was still evidence of greenness from him through the race, he had his ears pricked for much of the contest, and he took a while to pick up properly in the straight. The winner Treasure Beach enjoyed the run of the race on the inside just behind the leader and got the gap at the top of the home straight when he wanted it. In fairness, the winner showed the better turn of pace, but Nathaniel galloped all the way to the line and was coming back at the winner inside the final 50 yards.

There is no doubting that this run will have brought Nathaniel on a good deal, he will have learned plenty from this. He had got a bit warm beforehand under the saddle, but it wasn’t a major issue and this was after all his first proper run for some time as his comeback had been little more than an exercise canter to break his maiden against two rivals at odds of 1/20. In that race at Haydock he had to be niggled to pick up the leader three furlongs out but once he got to the front he powered clear. He didn’t quicken here when William Buick immediately wanted him to as they rounded the home turn but he put his head down and stayed on all the way to the line and was clawing back ground on Treasure Beach late on. There is no question that a truer test of stamina would have suited Nathaniel much better.

Although it was originally perhaps slightly disappointing that Nathaniel was beaten here, the winner was third to Frankel in the Royal Lodge last season (A O’Brien’s sole representative in the race) and the two of them here pulled three lengths of the comfortable Epsom Derby Trial winner Slumber in the short home straight. Nathaniel remains the closest any horse has got to Frankel in his life when running him to half a length in a Newmarket maiden last year on both of their debuts.

The sterner test of stamina that the Derby will provide, thanks largely to Coolmore’s annual band of runners, will suit Nathaniel. He is a galloper rather than a quickener, and as such he may be a St Leger horse rather than a Derby horse. John Gosden has a terrific recent record in the Leger, he is very good at bringing horses on gradually at three and that may be the route this one is to take now. Connections though are apparently keen to have a crack at the Derby, and he would have a live each way chance at Epsom in an open year if allowed to take his chance.

5th May 2011