Frankel too far ahead to quit now
Having been the pivot on which Champions Day at Ascot was always going to turn, Frankel didn't disappoint.
By his own devastating standards, Saturday's QE II turn was almost perfunctory. Still, he readily stretched his unbeaten record to 10, and his Group One haul to six.
That Frankel could be so casually dismissive of such decent opposition at the end of a season that began in April is just another measure of how little he has needed to exert himself. Of course, it is also testament to the job that Henry Cecil has done in honing the energy of a horse whose coltish exuberance might have been his downfall.
Credit for that not insignificant feat must go to Tom Queally, too. Back at Ascot in June, Waterford-born Queally raised many eyebrows when rendering Frankel as close as he has ever been to vulnerable by committing dangerously early.
The partnership got away with it on the day, but Queally has justified Cecil's unflinching support since then by keeping things as uncomplicated as possible. And lest we forget, Queally's assured role in that lung-bursting pillar-to-post 2,000 Guineas rout in May was one of the riding highlights of the year.
A final word on Frankel must be reserved for his owner, Khalid Abdulla. The Juddmonte Stud impresario's colours have frequented Irish racecourses in recent years courtesy of his association with Dermot Weld, and his decision to keep Frankel in training for 2012 is the most sporting gesture to have graced the Flat in an age.
As was the case with Sea The Stars two years ago, Frankel is justifiably reckoned to be one of the all-time greats, but his commercial worth as a stallion is almost incalculable. Unlike Sea The Stars, which was by the much less fashionable Cape Cross, Frankel's sire is the peerless Galileo; he is everything that is so sought after in the breeding sector, not least because he has pace to burn.
In short, he is now probably the single most valuable stallion prospect ever, and would readily command a six-figure sum per service, maybe even up to €250,000 a pop.
We know that Abdulla doesn't need the money. Nonetheless, bearing in mind that Frankel is a horse that he bred himself, and is thus one whose lineage and flawless reputation he must be especially keen to preserve, that the Saudi prince has resisted the temptation to quit while he is so far ahead is not to be sniffed at.
Would that it were ever thus!
Aidan O'Brien produced Fame And Glory to record a comprehensive victory in the long-distance Group Three on Saturday, though the So You Think bubble was irrefutably burst in the Champion Stakes. Given that everything went right throughout the race this time, that he failed to see it out after hitting the front over a furlong down confirmed the suspicion that the Australian import simply isn't as invincible as we were led to believe. He is a good horse, no doubt, but no better than he looked when outfought by Cirrus Des Aigles. At Keeneland on Saturday night, the Ballydoyle maestro recorded his 17th Group One of the year when Together, five times a runner-up at the top level, won the QE II Challenger under Colm O'Donoghue.
Ride of the weekend
Jamie Spencer put his neck on the line on Fame And Glory and was duly rewarded. Unhappy with the pace, Spencer made his mind up early on to take his fate in his own hands, and thereafter rode a textbook race from the front. As he sought to stretch his rivals from the home turn, it helped that he had a willing partner, but it was yet again further evidence, were it needed, that Spencer is at the top of his game.
Ado McGuinness's triumph with the 14/1 shot Beau Amadeus in the Birdcatcher Nursery at Naas took a bit of doing. In 10 previous starts, Wayne Lordan's mount had failed to win, and was beaten by an average of five lengths. Yesterday, he scored by two, landing a tidy €39,000 winner's purse in the process.
One for the future
The opening juvenile maiden at Naas threw up a very promising winner in the John Oxx-trained Sambusca. Well backed from his opening show of 3/1 into 7/4 clear favourite, Johnny Murtagh's mount quickened smartly inside the final furlong to score by two lengths.
Beaten only five lengths by Misty For Me in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Kevin Prendergast's Handassa showed the benefit of blinkers as she relished the softer ground in the EBF Listed Garnet Stakes, providing her trainer and her rider Declan McDonogh with a Naas double following the earlier success of the impressive Bulbul. With the ground in her favour, she could pick up another contest before the season's out.
Another trio at
After a treble for Irish-trained horses on Friday, Saturday's Prestbury Park card produced an identical yield. Ongenstown Lad, trained by Gillian Callaghan -- who is married to the former Meath footballer Barry -- sluiced up in the opening novice hurdle, before Kalann did likewise for Sabrina Harty in the conditions hurdle. Shark Hanlon's Clondaw Warrior completed a good day's work by a neck in the bumper.
6 Very much a case of six of the best at Loughrea yesterday as Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Derek O'Connor took a leaf out of the book of fellow amateur Jamie Codd who went through the card at Tinahely point-to-point last Sunday.
O'Connor didn't quite emulate Codd's feat as while he did ride six winners at Loughrea, he wasn't able to ride in the seventh race as it was restricted to novice riders only.
However, the Galway rider did manage to add to his tally of records as he became the first jockey to achieve a six-timer twice (did it at Dromahane back in 2008). Two of his winners, Tullymacken and Tyrone Gold Rain, were for his brother Paurick while he also rode winners for Liam Burke, Pat Doyle, Sam Curling and Catriona Muldoon.
52,000 The purse percentage, in sterling, that Christophe Soumillon lost out on in Saturday's Champion Stakes. While he produced Cirrus Des Aigles with a brilliantly timed run, he struck it six times in the final furlong, when only five are permitted.
4 The number of consecutive wins which the Charles Byrnes-trained Pittoni has clocked up. The 4/6 favourite was a 12-length winner of yesterday's conditions hurdle at Naas -- adding to his wins in a handicap hurdle at Leopardstown last February and two Flat wins (Tipperary and Listowel). His Limerick trainer is likely to step him up in grade over hurdles.
"What has just happened at Ascot to Christophe Soumillon is very sad. He is taking legal action and I have to say I support him. #shameless" -- Paddy Brennan's sentiments on Saturday were no doubt echoed throughout the weigh room