A race which bares the resemblance of a procession; The Sussex Stakes doesn't inspire a generation to be proud of the quantity of runners who feel worthy enough to race alongside Great Britain's gold medal horse, yet the probable final appearance by Frankel over the mile distance cannot be missed as he continues his lap of honour around the racecourses which have held him dear in a racing career spanning three impressive years.
Wednesday sees a familiar scenario for Frankel. In 2011, his first outing against his elders at Goodwood saw a field of four go to post for the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, yet this year's field has failed to draw a Canford Cliffs figure. Instead, Frankel races his pacemaker, Bullet Train, Richard Fahey's handicapper-come-Group horse Gabrial and the intriguing Godolphin runner Farhh. Farhh, who was last seen narrowly defeated by Nathaniel in the Coral-Eclipse, continues his Group race ascendency with a supplemented entry in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes tomorrow at a cost of £19,500. With prize money for second likely to be around the £70,000 mark tomorrow, the supplementing of Farhh isn't the worst piece of business Godolphin have committed to this season but it is an interesting move with a horse who has looked to thrive over the ten furlong trip that a race such as the Coral-Eclipse provides.
A lot of vocal downplaying of Gabrial's ability has passed from many unconnected with the horse since Richard Fahey's decision to step his three year old colt straight up to Group 1 level since the Haydock Silver Bowl in May. Fahey was partially proved right with his decision when Gabrial was an unlucky fifth-place in the Group 1 St James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and he has not shyed away from the incomprehensible task that is taking on the likes of Frankel in a small-field Group 1 race here. Fahey is a trained on the up, a trainer finally receiving the plaudits he so richly deserves, but whilst his string of horses continue to thrive, even Fahey will admit that the chances of beating Frankel in the Wednesday's race are minimal.
Imagine if Bullet Train won. A half brother to Frankel and Noble Mission, Bullet Train hasn't won a race since the 2010 Lingfield Derby Trial which saw him enter the Epsom Derby of that year as a quietly fancied third-favourite; Victory in the Sussex Stakes might just stun the Goodwood crowd into a sense of confusion. A last placed finish in the 2010 Epsom Derby itself looked to trigger a domino effect in Bullet Train's performances, with last placed finishes all too frequent and he now ploughs his trade as Frankel's pacemaker. Whilst Frankel continues to play with Excelebration in the closing two furlongs of his races, back in the pack Bullet Train has an ongoing battle with Windsor Palace - Excelebration's pacemaker. With no Excelebration in this race this time around, it's fair to say Bullet Train may be wondering where his old sparring partner may be this time around. It's crazy to say, but Bullet Train has started to perform well in the closing stages of his races given the power-packed pace set up he normally contributes in the early stages of his races. For me, I honestly feel that we may be about to see Bullet Train grab second behind his 'commander in chief' and where better place to do it than in Frankel's last attempt over a mile, the distance where teamwork has reaped the reward of victory after victory.
Wednesday sees Frankel unbackable. Australia are familiar with the prohibitive odds of 1/20 and 1/33 that are readily available on Black Caviar for her races yet this will be the first time ever that Frankel has been available as low as 1/20. It's a race to sit back, relax and admire the beauty of a stunning racehorse who - admittedly - continues to beat the same horses over and over again but in varying styles which never fail to inspire the crowd into spontaneous applause from as far as two furlongs out. In the Olympics, the tag line the athletes are readily reminded of is to 'Inspire a generation'; An equine athlete, Frankel has certainly done that.