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Frankel's fairytale farewell

LIFE at Henry Cecil's training base, Warren Place, was very different today as life without Frankel began.

THE unbeaten and now retired world champion of horseracing still resides under Cecil's care for the next week or so, but the inevitability of him heading off to stud, demanding a suggested £100,000 per mare, is just around the corner.

While Cecil, Tom Queally and regular work rider Shane Fethersonhaugh will all have to get on with the fact that their life is now Frankel-less and their involvement in the rest of his career is non-existent, they can, like all of us, be grateful to have experienced such a great horse for a season longer than most would have predicted.

A champion at two and again at three, a decision to retire Frankel to stud after Champions Day at Ascot last year would have been the norm for most. But the utmost credit is given to Cecil and, most importantly, Prince Khalid Abdullah for going that extra distance with Frankel - and quite literally as he stepped up to be a champion at a mile and a quarter, as well as a mile.

On the BBC coverage on Saturday, presenter Clare Balding proposed that Frankel may even be kept in training at five and her sidekick Willie Carson said the idea was most likely, the debate of which most would have found ridiculous.

However, the Prince's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe admitted that the prospect was discussed at length before it was decided that Frankel could simply do no more.

After three years in training with hardly a day missed, connections didn't want to go to the well too often and somewhat jeopardise his incredible record next season.

Looking ahead, Grimpthorpe revealed: "We will have to liaise with Henry. Frankel will be let down now and the real point will be to get him to the stage when he's relaxed and he's going to get used to a different life.

"That will take a week or so, maybe longer until everyone's happy and then he'll come over to Banstead Stud."

With the ground at Ascot turning to heavy in places on Saturday and the prospect of Frankel facing the most testing ground of his career for arguably the biggest race of his career, there was at one stage a threat of him being withdrawn.

However, Grimthorpe admitted to being a lot happier after walking the track.

"It was always going to be an interesting day, whatever the outcome. When I walked the course I was much happier with the way the things were to go," he said.

Frankel was extremely relaxed in the preliminaries of the race, and so much so that he was slow out of the starting stalls leaving an anxious feeling with many ahead of what the next mile and a quarter might bring.

Waterford's Tom Queally didn't panic however, nor did the underestimated Ian Mongan who was aboard pacemaker Bullet Train.

"Tom held him together and I thought it was just a wonderful ride," Grimthorpe added.

"The way that everyone has reacted to Frankel and to Henry has been one of the great sporting stories of the year -- if not many years. It was brilliant and totally deserved.

Victory

"I think a wide-margin victory was never really going to be on the cards with that sort of going."

Cecil's character and resolve during his ongoing battle with stomach cancer has been powerful and again his brief words afterwards were barely whispered, yet loud and clear: "He's the best I've had, the best I've ever seen. I'd be surprised if there's ever been anything better."

Frankel's truly marvellous career on a racecourse is now over, but what he has done for racing, especially flat racing has been immense.

Henry Cecil was so good for Frankel, but without doubt Frankel was even more important to Cecil. Legends both.


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