Farhh ready to prove he has come a long way with Frankel challenge
Those impatient to discover a fresh dimension to the greatness of Frankel must wait until York next month, when he will finally try a new distance. In the meantime, however, they are indebted to two old allies for livening up the British racing summer.
John Gosden yesterday committed Nathaniel to the defence of the Betfair King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. And his patron, Sheikh Mohammed, instructed the manager of his elite stable, Godolphin, to reinforce what had begun to seem non-existent opposition to Frankel in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on 1 August.
Farhh, whose consecutive podium finishes in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and Coral Eclipse Stakes have announced him as a legitimate new force at Group One level for Godolphin, is to be supplemented for £19,500 at the five-day stage. Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, recounted a characteristic conversation with his boss.
"I asked Sheikh Mohammed whether he wanted to go to Goodwood, and hopefully finish a good second to Frankel, or wait for the Prix Jacques Le Marois in France," Crisford said. "And he said, 'What sort of stupid question is that?' We're really excited. The timing is perfect for Farhh, and the Sussex is a wonderful race. It would be a shame if there were just two or three runners."
At the very least, then, the Sussex could introduce a new gauge of the champion's capacity at a mile. In his last three starts, if by ever more staggering margins, Frankel has been followed home by the very same horse. Moreover he had already established his superiority over Excelebration as long ago as in the Greenham last spring. Excelebration seemed thoroughly fed up with his role as punchbag at Royal Ascot, so it is gratifying that Frankel will now meet a new, upwardly mobile rival.
And there is a distinct possibility that Farhh will prove better again back over a mile, having been more or less confined to the bridle when meeting traffic at Ascot, and then just been outstayed by Nathaniel at Sandown. "I think the best horse won that day," Crisford said. "But Farhh used up a lot of energy to get upsides, and probably didn't quite have enough petrol in the tank for that stiff finish. He's still on a learning curve, this horse. But you have to remember he is still only a Thirsk Hunt Cup winner. "
As for the horse who beat Farhh at Sandown, Gosden has concluded that it would be "wimpish" not to proceed to Ascot – even though Nathaniel will have had just a fortnight to absorb what was a very demanding comeback race. "As of this morning, he's a runner," declared the Newmarket trainer. "William [Buick] breezed him and was delighted. I expect the ground to be on the easy side, not heavy, and I think it would be wimpish not to run."
Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey were both trading at just over 3-1 yesterday on Betfair's market on their race, with Sea Moon around 7-2.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Gowanharry (3.10 Catterick) Has been indulged with a 3lbs rise for winning her first handicap, tried in a tongue-tie, a couple behind having won since. Contested a strong pace that day and this sharper track will suit.
Ghostflower (4.30 Lingfield) Very well bred newcomer from flourishing yard.
One to watch
Edge Closer (Tony Carroll) Has not been with his new trainer long, and looked ready to exploit a very good mark when third at Newmarket last week, going strongly but isolated from the pair who beat him.
Where the money's going
Carlingford Lough is 12-1 from 16-1 with Ladbrokes for the Guinness Galway Hurdle.
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