Sport Horse Racing

Monday 19 March 2018

Cecil legend to star but Opinion Poll tops the value options

Wayne Bailey

'WHEN the legends die, the dreams end; there is no more greatness." So said Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee tribe and one the most iconic figures in Native American history.

Fair enough, Frankel is far from dead and I've no doubt Tecumseh was discussing more important matters than sport. However, one can't help feeling a little melancholic as the greatest horse in racing history goes to post one last time today.

Certainly, it has been a dream journey for Henry Cecil, with the 69-year-old trainer crediting Frankel for giving him a lease of life and helping him fight a very tough battle with stomach cancer.

Perhaps, then, it's not so over the top to compare both the horse and trainer to the legends of the past. Great horses will come along again in the future but God knows when, if ever, we'll see one this good.

A friend of mine who manages a bookmakers shop in Wicklow told me that some of his regular customers have been backing Frankel with small stakes this week but, rather than cashing in the dockets when he wins, they plan on keeping them as souvenirs.

Having discussed the son of Galileo on these pages almost every time he's raced, there's not much more to say only that I desperately hope the ground doesn't come up too heavy at Ascot in the Champion Stakes (4.05) for which he trades at 2/9.

The worst ground he's encountered thus far has been soft and that was on his debut -- although he is so far ahead of any horse in training that defeat seems almost out of the question, no matter what the conditions today.

Cirrus Des Aigles won't mind the ground and should follow him home, with Nathaniel also expected to give a reasonably good account of himself.

In the opening Long Distance Cup (1.45), Opinion Poll is tipped to reverse last year's placings with Fame And Glory and take home the prize for the boys in blue at Godolphin, priced around 3/1.

Fame And Glory was one of the best stayers of the season last term but he's failed to sparkle in his latest two races and you'd have to wonder if the days of winning Group races are now a thing of the past.

The selection was beaten by Colour Vision, also in the Godolphin colours, in the Ascot Gold Cup last time but Colour Vision hasn't been quite as good in his subsequent races, so Frankie Dettori will have his work cut out to get him home in front. Opinion Poll is far more consistent and will have no problem handling today's conditions.

In the following Champions Sprint Stakes (2.20), take a chance on the mud-loving Maarek, available at 13/2 in places.


It's been over a year since Ponty Acclaim registered a win but she's been holding her own in Listed company of late and seems to enjoy a run in the muck.

Despite the fact that she'll be carrying top-weight, the Catterick Dash Handicap (2.50) is a step down in class for her today and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the front-runner take off early and go for gold this afternoon, priced around 8/1.


1.45 Ascot: Opinion Poll

2.20 Ascot: Maarek

2.50 Catterick: Ponty Acclaim (e/w)

2.55 Ascot: Great Heavens

3.30 Ascot: Excelebration

Irish Independent

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