Monday 26 February 2018

Cecil urging caution ahead of Frankel's Ascot quest

Sue Montgomery

Henry Cecil is keeping his fingers crossed that Frankel will deliver on the great expectations placed on him at Ascot on Saturday.

In four days' time, Cecil will take this season's wonder horse to the track for the inaugural British Champions Day, which is, with its £3m in purses, the richest card ever staged in England.

Khalid Abdullah's unbeaten colt -- ridden by Dungarvan's Tom Queally -- is long odds-on to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and is rated by Timeform 12lb clear of any of the nine rivals declared yesterday.

But despite the three-year-old's apparent invincibility, his trainer is still taking nothing for granted.

"It's important, for this day and for the sport, that we have a real champion," he said. "Arkle, Desert Orchid, Sea The Stars, and maybe Frankel, these horses come into people's lives. But there's no such thing as a good thing. 'Ought to' and 'will' are two very different things."

Frankel may have the assistance of a pacemaker, his older brother Bullet Train, in the £1m contest on Ascot's straight mile, but Cecil is keeping his tactical cards pretty close to his chest.

"He's done it before, but I don't particularly want Frankel to have to make the running this time," he said. "It's hard on him, and would not be the best thing for him. None of us want it to be a crawl and then a sprint, so a pacemaker could help.

"We haven't really decided yet what to do, whether we want to outspeed them or outstay them.

"But Bullet Train will be there if I need him."

Ladbrokes have introduced a QEII market without Frankel, headed by the Marco Botti-trained Excelebration and the French filly Immortal Verse at 2/1.

"Mine is in great form, and worked really well on Saturday," added Cecil.

"He is stronger than he has ever been, I'm very happy with him and I hope that he'll do on the day what people expect him to do.

"But no race is ever a formality and I have, and must have, the greatest respect for the opposition." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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