When bookmakers made him favourite for the Ladbrokes St Leger, connections of Nathaniel were adamant that their colt had still bigger fish to fry. Sure enough, yesterday they revealed that they are giving earnest consideration to paying £75,000 to supplement him for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
As a progressive three-year-old, Nathaniel would introduce an engrossing new dimension to a race otherwise dominated by older horses. The King George was historically billed as a midsummer showdown between the Classic generation and their seniors, but had become largely abjured by three-year-olds until Workforce made that disastrous attempt to reverse the trend last year.
Despite a fringe presence in 2009, prior to that not one three-year-old had lined up in three consecutive runnings. The participation of Nathaniel on Saturday week, then, would represent a huge tonic to Ascot. It is arguable that John Gosden has already made him the most accomplished British colt of his age over a mile and a half; and, in receipt of 12lbs from St Nicholas Abbey and Rewilding, he would also arrive as the least exposed member of a field lacking depth.
The Galileo colt, remember, ran Frankel himself to half a length on their debut at Newmarket last summer. He also forced a photo with Treasure Beach – subsequently a Derby runner-up and winner, at Epsom and the Curragh respectively – in the Chester Vase. Moreover, his runaway success in the King Edward VII Stakes at the royal meeting came, albeit in soft ground, over the King George course and distance.
As such, it is easy to understand why Lady Rothschild may not be deterred by the fee required to add her colt to the field on Monday. James Wigan, her racing manager, stressed that the going and weather forecast would have to be propitious were she to do so.
"It's up in the air at the moment," he said. "But we are discussing the possibility. The ground will definitely be a factor, but good or good to soft would be fine. It would be a big ask, obviously. The difficulty is that there are very few races at this time of year. If you didn't go, where would you go? It would depend on a few things, but if we were happy, and John felt the same way, then that would be our route."
Should conditions at Ascot look like proving inimical, Wigan indicated that Nathaniel would be freshened up for an Arc trial. With the sprinklers on at Longchamp, Nathaniel had to pass up an Arc reconnaissance in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris tomorrow. A top-class race is none the less guaranteed, with Reliable Man stepping up in distance against Treasure Beach.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Emerald Wilderness (4.30 Lingfield) Made a promising resumption at Sandown, travelling sweetly before meeting traffic. On a good mark on his best form, and fits snugly into the conditions of this race.
Hal Of A Lover (4.20 Catterick) Another to prosper for this yard and worth forgiving a disappointing effort at Haydock last time, as he still looks to be on a fair mark judged on his previous improvement.
One to watch
Spifer (Luca Cumani) Has lost both his handicaps to date only through inexperience, getting too far behind at Kempton and then hanging left as he was sent into the lead at Newmarket on Saturday.
Where the money's going
Silvestre de Sousa, after another good day at Beverley, is now as short as 3-1 from 7-2 with William Hill for the jockeys' title; Midday, a likely substitute for Workforce, is 12-1 from 16-1 for the King George.