By Sean Goff
Nathaniel heads a field of 10 runners for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday as he bids to become the first back-to-back winner of the £1million showpiece since Swain in 1998.
John Gosden’s recent Coral Eclipse winner is joint-favourite with Sea Moon in Paddy Power’s online betting as St Nicholas Abbey has started to drift for the 1m 4f showpiece.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt is a leading contender for the race known as the ‘Clash of the Generations’ and he finished a neck second to Cirrus Des Aigles in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March before a long odds-on defeat in testing ground to stable-mate Windsor Palace over 1m 2f at The Curragh.
The Ballydoyle runner redeemed himself by winning the Coronation Cup for the second year running at Epsom this season. He could be joined by stable-mates Robin Hood and Windsor Palace and is sure to be a leading player providing the going remains on the good side.
But there’s no guarantee of that as Britain’s racing calendar continues to be hit by unseasonal downpours that have led to ground conditions normally reserved for the jumps code.
One significant statistic against Ballydoyle’s five-year-old is that the last 10 winners of this all-age race have been aged three and four.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Sea Moon went down by two-and-a-quarter lengths to St Nicholas Abbey at Churchill Downs in the Breeders Cup Turf last November but is unbeaten so far this term.
A head win over Dandino on his seasonal debut at Goodwood and subsequent three-and-a-quarter-length win over Dunaden in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot means his 100 per cent strike rate this season is there to be shot at on Saturday. Stoute was successful in 2009 with Conduit and 2010 with Harbinger.
The globe-trotting Dunaden already has a Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase under his belt and Mikel Delzangles colt will again be ridden by Craig Williams who’s two wins from two rides on him.
Paddy Power has seen solid support for Dunaden who has been backed into 5/1 from an opening 8/1 in their online betting.
Surprise 20/1 Arc De Triomphe winner Danedream has never run in Britain before but is an intended runner according to trainer Peter Schiergen.
The colt finished sixth in the Japan Cup after Longchamp, won easily at Baden Baden but was fourth of five at odds on at Saint-Cloud last month.
Reliable Man was a leading contender for the Arc that Danedream won but had an off day and finished 15 of 16.
He’s had a pleasing prep for Saturday’s contest when finishing fourth, beaten less then three lengths, behind the now-retired So You Think and Eclipse second Farhh at Royal Ascot last month.