07/23/2011 11:27AM

Ascot: Nathaniel upsets older rivals in King George VI; Workforce second

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Nathaniel wins the King George VI at Ascot on Saturday under jockey William Buick.

Nathaniel captured his first Group 1 race and stamped himself as an elite 3-year-old by beating older horses in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday at Ascot.

The race, however, was marred by the breakdown of Godolphin’s Rewilding, who had won the Sheema Classic and Prince of Wales’s Stakes in his two starts this year. Rewilding had been held up in last much of the trip and went bad as soon as jockey Frankie Dettori swung out for his stretch run. Dettori walked into a waiting ambulance. Rewilding badly broke a cannon bone and had to be euthanized.

Nathaniel, getting 12 pounds from his older rivals, proved much better Saturday than favored Workforce, who had his chance to go with the winner at the top of the homestretch, but instead drifted steadily toward the stand’s side rail, finishing on the outside fence many yards wider than the rest of the field.

Workforce, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, managed to edge St. Nicholas Abbey for second while turning in a subpar performance over his preferred 1 1/2-mile distance. Debussy turned in another poor effort and was fourth. Winning time over good-to-soft going was a very slow 2:55.07.

There was no early pace in the King George as Debussy and Nathaniel, the two who wound up in front, both tugged hard at their riders. It was Ahmed Ajtebi on Debussy who finally relented and let his mount run to the lead, immediately quickening the tempo, and as soon as Nathaniel had a horse in front of him he began to settle for jockey William Buick. Buick kept Nathaniel behind Debussy until the homestretch loomed, and once asked for run, Nathaniel quickened nicely. He opened a clear lead with about a quarter-mile to run and never was challenged.

Nathaniel, a son of Galileo and Magnificent Style owned by Lady Rothschild, was trained to victory by John Gosden. The colt, who was supplemented to the King George last week, now has won three of six career starts, including two of his last three outings. Gosden said after the race that Nathaniel might make his next start in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.