Gosden heroic at time of despair
The horror that united the racing community at Ascot on Saturday was immediately assuaged by the knowledge that an excruciating situation could not – in the most literal sense imaginable – have been in better hands. For no more competent ambassador could have been produced from its midst, following a catastrophic injury to Rewilding, than the very man who held the doomed colt's bridle as the veterinary team raced to the emergency. And the fact that John Gosden had also saddled the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes could only corroborate the priorities of fellowship and welfare he espoused, in effect, on behalf of every professional.
Gosden brought so enlightened a perspective to one of his proudest achievements – matching that of his own father, Towser, half a century ago – that he went to elaborate lengths, in a succession of post-race interviews, to redress any misapprehensions about the grisly spectacle that had blackened one of the sport's showcase occasions.
The big man explained that Rewilding had succumbed to the sort of unaccountable accident that might equally claim a horse loping carefree round the manicured paddocks of a stud farm. He also stressed the miracle of nature by which even a shattered cannon bone could be anaesthetised to the extent that Rewilding could feed nonchalantly on handfuls of grass as the screens went up. It had been harrowing – for racegoers of all ages, never mind the heart-broken Godolphin team – to see the horse get back on three legs and make a last, macabre journey before the stands. But none could excusably have confused the aesthetically repulsive with the morally repugnant.
How can Gosden's peers adequately reciprocate this service? For a start, they can salute his consummate handling of Nathaniel. He had the nerve and judgement not only to sit out the Derby, but also to recommend that the colt's owner, Lady Rothschild, pay no less than £75,000 to supplement her late developer to the field – which audacious plan was first revealed in these pages, 12 days ago.
Some have mistaken the colt's previous proximity at Chester to the Epsom runner-up, Treasure Beach, as proof that the Derby might have slipped through his grasp. But Gosden is adamant that Nathaniel would not have been at home on the track, in fast conditions, and it seems almost certain that he would never even have run on Saturday, had he taken in the Derby.
Instead Nathaniel arrived as that modern rarity in the King George – an unexposed, rapidly improving three-year-old, primed to exploit the concession of 12lb from his seniors. Some will argue that the prize fell into his lap, Workforce having forfeited his chance by veering left through the final furlong, and St Nicholas Abbey having been stranded by a slow early pace. But while William Buick, who shared a treble on the day with his boss, certainly rode a very alert race, the bottom line is that this was only the sixth start of Nathaniel's career, and his third outside maidens. He merits full respect as yet another outstanding son of Galileo, and soft ground at Longchamp in October would qualify him as a formidable contender for his next start, in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Jaldarshan (5.30 Ayr)
Scrapes into this after being dropped 2lb for a pretty encouraging run at Hamilton last time, going much better than of late for a long way, and can contribute to her stable's recent return to form.
* Next best
Long Awaited (3.15 Yarmouth)
Youngest and most progressive in this field, having beaten a subsequent winner in his maiden before striking impressively off too strong a pace before fading on his handicap debut at Chester.
* One to watch
Regal Realm (Jeremy Noseda) closed strongly for second in Group Three company at Ascot on Saturday, sensibly ridden and promising better beyond 6f.
* Where the money's going
Frankel has now gone odds-on with Betfred for the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday, 5-6 from even money, with his big rival Canford Cliffs eased to 5-4 from 11-10.
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