A stunning performance by the incomparable Frankel in the Juddmonte International at York secured the colt’s place as an all-time superstar. This first test beyond a mile was a rout, predictable from the moment jockey Tom Queally eased the four year-old to the outside and kicked for home two furlongs out.
Now unbeaten in 13 starts and just as brilliant at an extended 10 furlongs as he had been over shorter distances, Frankel is the finished article, an achievement of which Sir Henry Cecil can be justly proud.
Owner Khalid Abdulla, describing this as his greatest moment in racing, must surely look now at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s biggest prize, on Oct 7 – though the colt would have to be supplemented. Bookmaker Paddy Power quote 1-3 ‘with a run’ for Longchamp, bearing in mind that the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot [Oct 20] has always been the colt’s scheduled finale.
Frankel’s trademark ruthlessness was on show again. If the 11-length victory in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes in June had caused a stir, this seven-length annihilation of another top-class field was conclusive proof that Frankel is the best to have raced in Europe, ever.
Four decades ago, British fans were spoilt when Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard came along in the same year just a year after Nijinsky, who was himself only five years after Sea Bird, regarded by many until yesterday as the champion of champions.
More recently, Montjeu and Dubai Millennium were outstanding and Sea The Stars dominated his generation, but none were able to exert the same level of superiority over their rivals on such a consistent basis.
Just examine Frankel’s astonishing recent record. He has won his last six outings by a total of 38 lengths. He has a freakish ability to quicken and destroy his rivals in a matter of strides. All of the victories have been achieved at the highest level and he has consistently beaten horses who have performed well elsewhere. Only 10 days ago, Excelebration, a horse who had been beaten five times by Frankel, won the Group One Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville with great authority.
Quite clearly, the horses Frankel has been brushing aside are Group One performers, who would under normal circumstances have won their share of top-flight races.
Even very good horses have difficulty in maintaining a high level of performance for a long period. Frankel has done it for three seasons.
In a sporting gesture beforehand John Magnier, head of Coolmore, racing’s most successful operation, informed Abdulla and his racing manager Lord Grimthorpe of the Irish stable’s tactics. “He told us that his pacemakers were going to go out in front and that there would be no funny business,” Grimthorpe said.
There was always the fear that one of the pacemakers might be a spoiler, but that notion was quickly knocked on the head. In the event, the pace was strong throughout, which made it a true staying test for St Nicholas Abbey and allowed Frankel to be examined legitimately over this new distance.
The champion passed his test with flying colours. He was always travelling within himself and when asked by Queally to quicken up, he slipped into a higher gear and dashed to the front to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd. Again, he was machine-like in his execution of the plan that Cecil had devised with Queally. Never for a second did he look in any danger.
Such was the ease with which Frankel dismissed his rivals that Prince Khalid, Cecil and Queally are obliged to have an unscheduled discussion on whether he should be in Paris on the first weekend in October rather than at Warren Place. It is time to book the ferry.