Frankel's Ascot moments
It's been five years since equine perfection graced our screens and racecourses on what seemed like an almost monthly basis. The mighty Frankel. The greatest Flat horse I've ever seen and very arguably the greatest ever. With fourteen races and fourteen wins, eight of them by five lengths or more, and only three by less than 2 lengths, it was always a case of 'by how far?' rather than 'will he win?' when Frankel lined up. So good was he that there were even reports of him running the fastest ever speed by a thoroughbred horse at 45mph, but it was an unofficial recording from online sources.
The most poignant part of the Frankel story was, of course, the fact that his trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, who handled him so magnificently, throughout, was to pass away just seven months after the horse's last race after suffering from ill health throughout the horse's racing career. The timing of Frankel's emergence in the life of a trainer who had achieved so much and done so much for racing over the years was not lost on the adoring public and every achievement the duo conquered was cheered just as loud in Ireland or France as it was in Britain. Like Arkle and Kauto Star before him, Frankel was the public's horse and no one wanted to see him, or Sir Henry, fail.
Five of Frankel's twelve wins were at Ascot and with the Royal meeting just days away we take a look back on those wonderful races and see who came closest to lowering his colours.
25th September 2010
Royal Lodge Stakes – Group 2
After his debut victory over a mile beating Nathaniel (at 7/4, the only time he would start odds-against in his career) by just half a length, Frankel was dropped back to 7f for a 13 length rout in a conditions race at Doncaster before his first visit to Ascot on his third start. Sent off 30/100 against four rivals in the Group2 Royal Lodge Stakes, he was held up in last place, made headway on the bit and crushed runner up, Klammer, by 10 lengths, with subsequent Epsom Derby runner-up and Irish Derby winner, Treasure Beach, in 3rd.
14th June 2011
St James' Palace Stakes – Group 1
Still green on his fourth start when winning the Dewhurst, Frankel reappeared in 2011 with a win in the Greenham before demolishing the 2000 Guineas field by a comfortable six lengths. It was his seventh start when he made his first Royal Ascot appearance in the St James' Palace, and probably the most nervy victory of a stunning career. After initially being held up in midfield, Tom Queally took Frankel to the front a full three furlongs out and put six lengths between him and the field. Ryan Moore and Zoffany were closing fast at the end but a half-length victory was the result and perhaps not Tom Queally's finest moment, despite getting the job done at odds of 30/100.
15th October 2011
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – Group 1
Four months later, and after a five length canter over Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, Frankel was back at Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II stakes. It was much more comfortable this time though but again showed that Tom Queally was unable to hold the horse up for as long as he'd probably have liked. Frankel's natural speed ensuring he was already prominent by half way and then storming away from old rival Excelebration by a comfortable four length victory at odds of 4/11.
19th June 2012
Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1
Frankel's second racecourse appearance of 2012 saw him back at Ascot for the Queen Anne Stakes and, having condemned Excelebration to the runners up spot for the third time in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, it was all set for the same result again with Frankel priced up at 1/10 this time! He didn't disappoint either, producing probably the most impressive performance of his career which left Excelebration toiling 11 lengths behind in yet another gallant runners-up spot.
20th October 2012
Champion Stakes – Group 1
After retaining the Sussex Stakes by a comfortable six lengths from Godolphin's rapidly improving Farhh, Frankel was stepped up to 10 furlongs for the Juddmonte International and did pretty much the same to the same rival when winning this time by seven lengths. This showed the great horse had the required stamina and set up a date with the Champion Stakes which was set to be his last race. Soft ground gave plenty of cause for concern over the new trip but there was no way he was going to miss it and the courage Sir Henry Cecil showed in risking a perfect career in uncertain conditions is to be admired. Only five rivals lined up, including the excellent French trained Cirrus Des Aigles, and it was only a one and half-length victory this time for Frankel, taking up the lead from the French horse a furlong out and asserting well enough for a victory at odds of 2/11.