SANDOWN PARK, England // Godolphin's Farhh had to settle for a podium placing in a Group 1 race for the second time in the space of a fortnight after Nathaniel outstayed him up the Sandown hill in the Eclipse Stakes today.
The lightly raced Godolphin four year old had dazzled at Royal Ascot when third behind So You Think and he answered virtually every question asked of him by Frankie Dettori but was simply outstayed in a bitter struggle to the line.
Twice Over, the dual Dubai World Cup runner and 2010 Eclipse victor, was third, while Cityscape, the Dubai Duty Free winner, was fourth.
"We are absolutely delighted with the run," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said. "Farhh ran a huge race and showed he has a good constitution."
Overshadowing Farhh's fine performance was the disappointing run by Monterosso, who was pushed along three furlongs from home by Mickael Barzalona and faded into seventh.
It was the Dubai World Cup victor's first run since his heroics at Meydan Racecourse in March and even Crisford admitted that the jury is now out as to whether the five year old can live with the best turf horses in the world.
"We will have to see about Monterosso," Crisford added. "He was rusty. We have no plans for him yet but you will have to judge him on his next race. He has good form on turf, and has won at Royal Ascot on it, but we will just have to see."
Just as Monterosso was fading, William Buick had set Nathaniel alight and approaching two furlongs from the finish line the pair were being chased by James Doyle and Cityscape.
As it became apparent that Cityscape had nothing left to give, Dettori angled out Farhh for a run. Farhh bounded down the middle of the track past Monterosso, Crackerjack King and Cityscape and, as Nathaniel entered the final furlong, he had to dig down to his deepest reserves. Nathaniel had made his name last season winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot over two furlongs further than today's distance of 10 and his superior stamina won the day.
"Monterosso attacked us, Cityscape attacked us and then … Dettori came up to attack us," John Gosden, the winning trainer, said. "I saw his white cap streak up and I thought that was the moment the boxer was on the ropes and the knockout punch was coming. Were we ever headed though? No."
The King George could one again be the target for Nathaniel, although last season there was three weeks between the two races, whereas this year the British summer highlight is run on July 21.
For Buick, despite wins in the Dubai Sheema Classic aboard Dar Re Mi in 2010 and the St Leger on Masked Marvel last season, the victory on Nathaniel at Ascot remains the pinnacle of his short, but brilliant career.
"It was a gutsy performance and he showed his quality today," the 23 year old said.
"It went pretty smoothly. I had various plans in my head and he battled on well.
"I could see Frankie in the corner of my eye. Nathaniel quickened really well. He reacted to the presence of Farhh.He's very honest and he's a rider's dream."
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE