Friday, May 11, 2012
By Stephen Dwyer
Is Frankel really the best racehorse in the world ? Many flat enthusiasts believe him to be. But is he really better than Big Buck’s ? Black Caviar ? The answer is; possibly, but he certainly deserves to be rated in the top three, no doubt. Hard as it is to compare the efforts of National Hunt against the speed and candour of the flat, Frankel is one of the best colts to race since the great Shergar. Ahead of last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, Frankel was valued by a leading Bloodstock firm at £100 million. Even then, the figure was said to be on the conservative side.
The reason for the stellar valuation is simple. Unbeaten in all of his nine starts, five of them were Group One races, Frankel appears to have it all. Speed, strength and a gruelling turn of foot that saw him win one of the most visually memorable 2000 Guineas ever held at Newmarket least season. The biggest price he has ever started at was 7/4 on his racecourse debut and interestingly the horse to finish second to him that day was the John Gosden-trained Nathaniel who would go on to win the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
In October of last year, Frankel was allotted a rating of 143 by Timeform. This was the highest mark awarded by the organisation in over forty years and their fourth highest of all time behind Sea Bird, Brigadier Gerard and Tudor Minstrel. Fittingly, Frankel is named in honour of the late American trainer Bobby Frankel who was inducted into the Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1995. Owned by Saudi Prince Khalid Abdulla, Frankel makes his seasonal bow at Newbury in the Lockinge Stakes on Saturday May 19th. Also entered in the Lockinge are the Aidan O’ Brien trio of Excelebration, So You Think and Windsor Palace but over his preferred distance of a mile, Frankel is likely to have little to worry about.
A best priced 4/9 for the Lockinge, Frankel's trainer has earmarked the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot and the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown as the races to target this season. A cause for slight concern was a minor training setback in April when the four year old colt suffered a superficial injury. This caused him to miss a week’s training but even this is unlikely to affect his performance at Newbury. Frankel’s jockey, Dungarvan native Tom Queally admitted he is excited to renew his partnership with the Colt on Saturday and believes he will be a tough nut to crack.
Queally won his first ever classic in the 2000 Guineas last year when he famously said “He’s made a show of them. The one thing this horse does is gallop”. Dubbed “Frankel-stein” by the world media, not many people might know that Frankel is inbred 3 x 4 to the stallion Northern Dancer, meaning that Northern Dancer appears once in the third generation and once in the fourth generation of his pedigree.
In what is his last season in training, Frankel ‘s connections will be able to command a six figure stud fee when he retires to stud. Given the colt’s ability and what he has achieved to date, he may well retire unbeaten. The Lockinge will provide a good indication as to how much he has trained on since last year but by all accounts, racing fans are in for a treat when Fantastic Frankel takes to the track at Newbury.
Timeform's 140+ rated horses:
145 Sea Bird II
144 Brigadier Gerard, Tudor Minstrel
142 Abernant, Ribot, Windy City
141 Mill Reef
140 Dancing Brave, Dubai Millennium, Sea The Stars, Shergar, Vaguely Noble.
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