Standing at the one furlong pole for a moment I became concerned that the greatest horse I've seen may not finish the job. Admittedly this is a fear which is readily frequent during races that Frankel competes in but is never wholly realistic. What if this was the one time the Juddmonte champion was to falter for some inexplicable reason? As he surged towards me I saw the unbearable tension and doubt quickly expelled in unbelievable style; Frankel had rushed past me with an incredible acceleration and didn't stop pulling away, eventually running out an eleven length winner - yes, eleven lengths and in a Group 1 contest. In doing so, Frankel has asserted himself as the highest rated horse ever on the Timeform ratings with a rating of 147 - 2lbs clear of Sea Bird - but the scary proposition that Frankel is still improving is all too real and Sir Henry Cecil genuinely doesn't believe the improvement stops here.
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
Speaking to the BBC after the race, Cecil was clear; "I'm not surprised but relieved, no horse is a certainty. He's a great horse, he did exactly what I thought he would but he's still improving". Excelebration must be relieved that Frankel may be disappearing from the mile race soon. Juddmonte Farms and Prince Khalid Abdulla have always been commendable in keeping champions on both side of the pond in training - just see Workforce and Ventura as good examples of this - but nobody connected with racing really believed that Frankel would be kept in training as a four year old. Pleasantly surprised? Pleasantly blessed. British horse racing has been gifted a horse that can increase the numbers of fans of the sport, increase the numbers of racegoers and increase the publicity of the sport as a whole. In his wake at Royal Ascot for the fifth time, Excelebration. Joseph O'Brien attempted new tactics this time in tracking Frankel's every move but he could not keep up with the sheer unbelievable turn of foot that Frankel harbours. The tactics almost pushed Excelebration into losing second place towards the line with the Andrew Balding-trained Side Glance and the German raider, Indomito, surging well late in the final furlong. Excelebration must be wondering what he has done so wrong to be around at the same time as Frankel just like Exotic Dancer in the Kauto Star/Denman era and Fame & Glory during Sea The Stars' phenomenal season but his time may come towards the tail end of the 2012 season. Races such as the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the QIPCO British Champions Stakes meeting look firmly on his radar as does, almost certainly, a tilt at the Breeders Cup Mile.
Where now for Frankel? Defending the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in August is a distinct probability yet hope and anticipation is beginning to build for Frankel to make his inaugural step into middle-distance company in the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday 7th July at Sandown Park. All connected with the sponsors are incredibly vocal in their passion and hope that Frankel takes in the Coral-Eclipse and it's the perfect test for Frankel to attempt the 1m2f distance in. If he were to attempt the race, the likes of Bonfire - last seen failing to stay the Derby trip at Epsom, the Aussie sensation, So You Think, and The Queen's Carlton House are sure to oppose - the latter being a tantalising match up on the publicity scale in The Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.
Having attended race meetings year upon year I've never seen anything like I saw today and the superiority Frankel exerted over his rivals was a true display of perfection. Not comfortable with one or two lengths in victory, Frankel kept on going almost encouraged by the round of applause he began to receive before he had even passed the half furlong marker. The round of applause didn't stop for ten minutes after allowing Frankel time to go on his merry journey half way around the track in his trademark awkward-to-pull-up manner before jockey Tom Queally brought him for a victory parade in front of the stands. Yes, Queally milked the applause but this is a horse of a lifetime for Queally, the horse of a lifetime for Cecil and the horse of a lifetime for the British racing public.
Now for Black Caviar.
Photo Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)