07/07/2012 2:57PM

Sandown: Nathaniel fires fresh in Eclipse


Nathaniel made a triumphant return to the races Saturday at Sandown, holding off Farhh to capture the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in his first start since last Oct. 15.

Nathaniel, a Galileo colt owned by Lady Rothschild and Newell Park Stud, ranked among the better European 3-year-olds of 2011, his most important win coming in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last July. And given his stout performance Saturday, he might well turn out to be among the better older horses in 2012.

With hot-riding William Buick in the saddle for trainer John Gosden, Nathaniel tracked the speed of City Style, who was serving as pacemaker for two of his Godolphin stablemates, Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso and Farhh. Galloping comfortably around the race’s one right-handed bend, Nathaniel was permitted to tackle City Style about three furlongs from the finish, but after making the front, challenges commenced. Cityscape attacked along the inside, but as Nathaniel turned him away near the top of the homestretch a more serious rally was being mounted by Farhh. Frankie Dettori had allowed Farhh to settle near the back of the field, only showing his hand after turning into the final straightaway, where he came wide with a promising run. Farhh reached Nathaniel’s flank with about a furlong to run, but Nathaniel found more, turning Farhh away to win by a half-length.

Nathaniel was timed in 2:06.94 for about 1 1/4 miles on good-to-soft going. Twice Over, who got a cozy inside trip, was up late for third while nearly three lengths behind Farhh. Monterosso never got untracked and checked in eighth of nine.

Nathaniel is scheduled to run back in two weeks time, when he defends this title in the King George, but if the Eclipse merely was a prep, it certainly was an impressive one.

“That was a fantastic training performance from John Gosden,” said Buick, who serves as the stable rider for Gosden. “To get this horse here and in the shape he was in, it’s a credit to John.”

◗ On the other side of the world, Pomodoro upset the Group 1 Durban July Cup in South Africa. Pomodoro beat an even longer shot, Smanjemanje, by a nose in the 1 3/8-mile race contested by 20 runners.