Those lucky enough to be at Newmarket last year on August 13, would have known that the two-year-old mile maiden was pretty special just from looking at the pedigrees of some of the horses engaged. They could hardly have dreamt, however, that it would throw up a star as glittering as Frankel, who won by half a length from Saturday’s King George V and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Nathaniel.
No horse has finished as close to Frankel since that day, as he has continued on his unbeaten path to earn a place in racing’s history books before he has even retired. His 2,000 Guineas will live long in the memory of those who bore witness and, whatever happens in Wednesday’s ‘Duel on the Downs’, once known as the Sussex Stakes, in which he goes head-to-head with another much-loved horse, Canford Cliffs, Frankel remains a mouth-watering stallion prospect.
The same can very much be said of the improving Nathaniel, winner of a memorable King George for all the wrong reasons following Rewilding’s sad demise. Nathaniel took notable scalps, however, in last year’s Derby and Arc winner Workforce and the rejuvenated St Nicholas Abbey and, hailing from one of most active black-type families in the stud book, he is guarantee already to have attracted plenty of attention from big stallions farms around the world.
Before we consign them to stud though, let’s look forward to what both have to offer on the racecourse, certainly for the remainder of this season, and potentially as four-year-olds.
The squeezing of fixtures for the Champions’ Series means Frankel’s connections will have to choose between the Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, now both run on the same day – October 15 – at Ascot. Nathaniel’s trainer John Gosden has indicated that Nathaniel could well be supplemented for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – just as he had been for the King George – but that a tilt at the Champion Stakes remains an option for the son of the stellar mare Magnificient Style.
The possibility of these two exquisite creatures – trained less than a mile apart from each other in Newamrket – meeting again is a prospect for us all to savour.