Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 17 November 2019

Sit back and enjoy wonderhorse Frankel

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Tom Queally, riding Frankel, win The Queen Anne Stakes during Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse on June 19, 2012 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Tom Queally, riding Frankel, win The Queen Anne Stakes during Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse on June 19, 2012 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Sue Montgomery

There may be the opportunity to turn €20 into €21, or even €200,000 into €210,000, as a result of about 90 seconds of action at Goodwood today.

Frankel, currently the highest-rated horse in the world and arguably the best over a mile there has ever been, is expected to start at odds of 1/20 in the Sussex Stakes.

The rate of return is better than offered by most banks, but the betting branch of the racing business is adept at providing cautionary tales about odds-on shots and superhorses.

One of those most often told concerns another 1/20 'certainty', Glendower, which lost a two-horse contest at Chepstow. He was ridden by Gordon Richards, one of whose followers always backed the jockey's best prospect of the day to win £1,000.

When Glendower whipped round after the starting tapes went up and unseated the 26-times champion, he cost the hapless punter £20,000, which, in 1947, was quite a lot.

Richards was also beaten on a 1/25 shot, the high-class two-year-old Royal Forest, at Ascot. And, after taking his US Triple Crown, the superlative Secretariat met defeat at 1/10.

Brigadier Gerard, though, was a mere 1/3 when, going for his 16th consecutive success, he was turned over by Roberto at York, prompting his owner Jean Hislop to comment waspishly of the winner: "He must have been stung by a bee."

It will probably take something like the assistance of a rogue apoidea to stop Frankel today, but the occasion is less about speculation than the appreciation of a truly and genuinely great horse.

That point has not been lost on the public, with unprecedented ticket sales for this afternoon's session.

Frankel, trained by Henry Cecil, owned and bred by the Saudi Arabian prince Khalid Abdullah and ridden by Tom Queally, has won all 11 of his races, by an aggregate 61 lengths. His victories include seven at Group One level, including last year's Sussex Stakes and, most recently, the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot by 11 lengths, taking his earnings to more than £1.6m.


Moreover, the Galileo four-year-old is not only an outstanding talent but is also gorgeous to behold, with his bright bay hide set off by four matching white socks and a white mark in the shape of a brilliant-cut diamond between his eyes.

He is not perfect; his temperament is explosive and he has a hard, unyielding strength through his neck and head that does not always make Queally's task easy.

But he has a muscular development that would be the envy of many in the Olympic Park and the sheer power and grace of his mighty stride is simply thrilling.

Frankel's rivals for today's £300,000 purse include his own pacemaker Bullet Train and the three-year-old Gabrial, rated 32lb his inferior.

That leaves just his contemporary, Farhh, as credible opposition, and full credit to the Godolphin team he represents for sportingly providing the crack with some sort of test.

This relatively inexperienced son of Pivotal was fast-tracked to top-level competition after winning a Thirsk handicap in May by six lengths. He is classy and progressive and his moment will come. Just not this afternoon.

Frankel will probably not have to do anything he has not done before -- or demonstrate anything new about himself on what is likely to be his last venture over a mile before he takes up the new challenge of his eagerly anticipated step up to 10 furlongs.

So just enjoy, and remember, the spectacle.

The Vintage Stakes is regularly taken by a youngster who takes high rank as a senior, including three Derby winners in Troy, Dr Devious and Sir Percy.

A few of today's runners are closely matched on previous form, including the topically-named Olympic Glory, which is fancied to give the Richard Hannon stable a hat-trick in the seven-furlong Group Two contest after a determined success at Newmarket on ground judged too soft.

But the potential of Ghurair (2.35) draws the attention.

The Elusive Quality colt made a favourable impression on his debut in a traditionally strong maiden at Newmarket (and the fourth-placed finisher won by nine lengths next time) and, though he takes a considerable jump in class, his first racecourse experience will not have been lost on him. (© Independent News Service)

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