Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rewilding can confirm pedigree in King George


Such has been the publicity ahead of the Sussex Stakes, the head-to-head at Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday week between Europe's two outstanding milers, Frankel and Canford Cliffs, there is a danger of this year's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday being considered 'vin ordinaire' in comparison.

The midsummer mile-and-a-half championship is, however, never that and in a season of outstanding clashes, this has the look of another between two four-year-olds, St Nicholas Abbey and Rewilding, both of whom have points to prove.

The passage of both horses to the upper echelons of the rankings has not been smooth and, to some extent, neither has quite managed to capture the public's imagination.

Workforce will only run if the ground is decent and the Classic generation will only be meaningfully represented if the Edward VII winner Nathaniel is supplemented for £75,000. The inclusion of both would significantly boost the strength in depth of the field.

St Nicholas Abbey was the champion two-year-old of 2009. He flopped at three, a victim of being forced for the 2,000 Guineas which was to be his only start in 2010. Aidan O'Brien blamed himself for that but his faith was rewarded in the Coronation Cup when he scrambled home ahead of Midday.

But while the Coronation Cup may look good on a stallion's battle honours, buried too close to the Derby, it hardly registers on the Richter Scale of public interest.

When Rewilding beat the mighty So You Think in what was possibly one of the great horseraces of any year in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, it was So You Think's defeat that made headlines, not Rewilding's victory.

To convince the public that was not a fluke, he needs to win the King George and I believe he will, regardless of the opposition. This is Godolphin's new flag-bearer, the Daylami, Fantastic Light or Swain of the current era.

If Workforce, So You Think and, indeed, St Nicholas Abbey are all XLs when they go to the rug shop, Rewilding is an altogether slighter, lighter-framed colt built from a finer mould. Rewilding came over from Andre Fabre's academy to join Godolphin not long before last year's Derby but struggled to string two races together, which convinced Godolphin he is better with a lengthy gap between his runs.

He was a well-beaten third in the Derby, he looked like he could one day be world class in the Great Voltigeur, but disappointed finishing sixth in the St Leger.

This season he followed in his sister Dar Re Mi's footsteps by winning the $6m Dubai Sheema Classic in March and then caused one of the upsets of the season when lowering So You Think's colours at Ascot.

"There are several things in his favour in the King George," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "A mile and a half definitely is, a strong run race is and we'll have Debussy in to ensure that, fast ground is his surface and he's been pleasing us all year.

"He won on the heavy as a two-year-old in France but that's a bit misleading, it blunts his finishing kick and sometimes in France you have no choice but to run on it. Frankie Dettori put his run in the Leger down to soft ground."

A good week for Godolphin could start today when Dettori has a chance to atone for riding Blue Bunting from too far off the pace in the Epsom Oaks by winning the Darley Irish Oaks at The Curragh.


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