Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
A perfect thirteen for thirteen, the fairytale story of Frankel comes to an emotional end on Saturday as a sell-out crowd of 32,000 pack into Ascot for one final glimpse of Sir Henry Cecil's superstar.
A scintillating miler that had carried his exceptional talent over three remarkable seasons, Frankel made the step up to ten furlongs with a display of ultimate perfection in the Juddmonte International at York. Having sidestepped the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, connections have stuck to the favoured plan with their four year old, ending his season and his career in the QIPCO British Champion Stakes.
Strength in depth is something that has regularly avoided Frankel. Through each twist and turn of his career they have run, yet Ascot, and the newly re-designed British Champions Series, has brought a sense of unity in the plethora of talent on show.
A French phonomenon that has thrived upon a continual ascendency towards the top of European racing, taking in the delights of Asia and the Emirates along the way. Cirrus des Aigles is a powerhouse that many a rival have failed to contain and one that is the closest match to that of the Juddmonte superstar when the considerations and comparisons are made on their abilities to quicken. The rain-softened ground that is expected at Ascot will readily play to his strengths as he looks to defend his crown in the race which saw him surge past the continental superstar, So You Think, in last season's renewal.
In Nathaniel, Frankel re-opposes the horse that he began his career alongside. Just two years ago on a wet August evening at Newmarket, Frankel and Nathaniel battled for supremacy in a maiden contest. Frankel was to come out on top against his rival by half a length and win twelve further races. For Nathaniel, also sired by Galileo, a Coral-Eclipse and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes would follow in a stellar career and it is somewhat fitting that both horses end their careers where they started, opposing each other for supremacy. Four-from-five in her lifetime, Ridasiyna is an exciting three year old daughter of Motivator who was last seen winning the Prix de L'Opera in scintillating fashion. The only filly or mare in the race, she looks to further enhance the competition Frankel faces in his final start and looks, yet again, to have ground conditions in her favour. With just one undiagnosed blip on her race record, the potential and talent which Ridasiyna harbours is still relatively unknown. From Germany, Pastorius is partnered by Frankie Dettori, who was last seen winning the Candian International on Joshua Tree at Woodbine, with connections firmly of the belief that they are running for second place. However, the performances from the three year old son of Soldier Hollow have taken the eye this year, most notably with the eight length domination in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis taking centre stage in his resume. Excellent on soft turf, he also holds a outside chance in conditions which he will relish and fires another arrow towards dethroning the champion.
Topped off by a Breeders' Cup Classic from Ballydoyle's never-ending army in Declaration of War, and a Topkai Trophy winner that flourished in Dubai this winter in Master of Hounds, the QIPCO British Champions Stakes is a race to saviour, a race chock full of talent and, arguably, a race that could further enhance the reputation of the living legend that is Frankel. All that's needed now is one final showcase of extravagant victory to wow the Ascot crowds for the final time in his toughest test to date.