Nathaniel laid to rest any lingering ideas he was not a legitimate championship performer by making a scintillating return to the track in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown.

Never quite given credit for winning what was considered an unsatisfactory King George last summer, the colt had an interrupted preparation and John Gosden had been playing down his chances on his first run since October.

The Newmarket trainer, barely more dominant in his career, has the assistance of a jockey riding on the crest of the same wave in William Buick.

But a giant effort was still required from Nathaniel as he flatly refused to relinquish his lead to Farhh in a final-furlong battle.

It should not be forgotten Nathaniel got as close to another son of Galileo, the incredible Frankel, as any horse has managed so far when beaten just half a length in a now-memorable Newmarket maiden in August 2010.

Intriguingly, Gosden was not averse to another clash with the horse of his, or perhaps any other generation, and will bide his time before committing the four-year-old to a defence of his King George title at Ascot on 21 July.

Nathaniel was completing a memorable day for owner Lady Rothschild, who had three Gosden-trained winners in the space of an hour, while the colt is named after one of the youngest members of the esteemed financial dynasty.

Buick was evidently anxious to make the most of his mount's stamina over a mile and a quarter and once he had removed the threat of Farhh's pacemaker City Style, he established a position in the lead with three furlongs remaining.

Frankie Dettori was soon on the scene but whatever he and Farhh threw at the leader, Nathaniel resisted, scoring by half a length.

Gosden said: "He's a super horse, but it has been very difficult to get him right as he has had a respiratory problem. It's two weeks to the King George and that's not great.

"He's put in a massive effort here, so we will just have to have a good think about whether we run again (so soon). Next week will tell us more.

"It will be fun to take on Frankel once more, as there was only half a length between them in a maiden a long time ago."

Gosden added: "I love Frankel, and they are two lovely horses. The Juddmonte (International) would be an option, as would the Champion Stakes at the end of the year."

Nathaniel was winning a short time after his full-sister Great Heavens won the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock in the same colours.