Saturday 16 December 2017

Cecil rules out Derby for sublime Frankel

It's plain sailing for Frankel and jockey Tom Queally as they stretch away from runner-up Dubawi Gold (far left) and Native Khan in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas. Photo: Getty Images
It's plain sailing for Frankel and jockey Tom Queally as they stretch away from runner-up Dubawi Gold (far left) and Native Khan in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas. Photo: Getty Images

JA McGrath

There was never a realistic chance that Frankel would be aimed at the Derby once his breathtaking 2,000 Guineas victory had been replayed and analysed by Khalid Abdulla and his team. The St James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot is now the colt's next port of call, not Epsom.

Yesterday, a beaming Henry Cecil reported racing's newest equine superstar to be in good shape, with no tell-tale signs that an unforgettable performance on Newmarket's Rowley Mile had left a mark.

"He looks really well," said Cecil. "But it's unlikely that he will run in the Derby. If he were to go to Epsom, I'd have liked the chance to give him a race beforehand. I love the Derby, but you've got to think of the horse," he explained.

The Epsom showpiece is 33 days away, which, in the context of preparing a rapid-improving young horse, is cutting it fine. Coral make stablemate World Domination as 5/1 joint-favourite (with Carlton House) and his Derby credentials will be tested in York's Dante.

Frankel's Guineas rout was one of those great moments in the modern history of Flat racing. It ranked with the spectacular wins of Shergar in the 1981 Derby, Dancing Brave in the 1986 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Arazi in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The first two furlongs of this one-mile Classic were as exciting as any one can remember, with first thoughts being that Frankel himself had taken charge of proceedings, then the realisation that daring tactics were being employed to destroy the opposition.

Godolphin's Casamento dropped back sharply in the second half of the race and finished tailed off, as did Ballydoyle's hope Roderic O'Connor.

There were gasps from the crowd when the course commentator called Frankel 15 lengths clear at halfway. Cecil admitted: "I haven't seen a Guineas run like that before." Frankly, nobody had.

Dubawi Gold ran on for second, beaten six lengths, while Native Khan finished an honourable third, half a length further away. The fact that the fourth, Slim Shadey, was 17-and-a-half lengths behind the winner was surely some measure of Frankel's superiority.

Cecil was sending out his 25th British Classic winner, and his adoring followers were as warm with their applause as ever. There is also the widespread belief in racing circles that this truly great colt is going to make this season his own, like Sea The Stars, but one with a more exciting style of running.

Speed he has in abundance, but Cecil dismissed suggestions that the six-furlong July Cup could be on Frankel's agenda. "I wouldn't dream of it," Cecil said. "I'm not saying he couldn't win it, but this colt will get a mile and a quarter later in the season."

It was the start of the British Champions Series, which features 35 races that authorities believe should be highlighted for the interest of the wider sporting public. It is a pity there is no points scoring attached to the series, because Frankel's final tally would have been of massive interest. The most important factor, though, is that Flat racing has a new champion, one which remains unbeaten after six starts. Cecil could not truly evaluate Frankel's contribution, but he sees its significance.

"It's important to have stars," the trainer said. "We've had Mill Reef, Sea The Stars, and many others. Racing needs horses like this to fly the flag." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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