The somewhat surprisingly nervous tension surrounding York Racecourse was settled in a matter of strides on Wednesday as Sir Henry Cecil's superstar four year old colt, Frankel, surged clear for an emphatic seven length success leaving eight rivals in his wake with exceptional style. Such was the manner of Frankel's victory, that the unprecedented prospect of an entry in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe now looks a real possibility on the first Sunday of October, a race which would likely bring the curtain down on the career of the people's champion.
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
Slow out of the starting gates, Frankel showed his versatility as Tom Queally anchored the son of Galileo in an unfamiliar fifth place behind St Nicholas Abbey as Robin Hood and Windsor Palace began their tag-team pacesetting, as expected, on the front end. With Bullet Train settled off the pace in third, St Nicholas Abbey was perfectly poised in fourth despite the overbearing presence of the people's champion, Frankel, keeping close tabs on him just a length back. Swinging into the Knavesmire straight, Queally began to angle Frankel to the wide outside and along the stands side rail. Silence covered the York stands as Sir Henry Cecil's superstar slingshot off the bend seemingly readily to deliver his effort. The roar of the crowd began to kick in louder and louder with each passing second as Frankel, under a tight double handed grip from Queally, began to make smooth process alongside St Nicholas Abbey before kicking on with unbelievable ease. In a matter of strides, Frankel surged clear to the sound of emphatic applause from all corners of the racecourse to run out a facile seven length victor of the Juddmonte International to the delight of the record opening day crowd. Returning to a racecourse for the first time since a recent session of chaemotherophy for a stomach cancer that has troubled him for many years, Sir Henry Cecil was a welcome returning sight to the crowd after missing Frankel's dominant defence of the Sussex Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood meeting three weeks prior. With a stick in his right hand to support his movement, Cecil was applauded at every moment he entered and exited the parade ring in both the Great Voltigeur Stakes - in which he saddles Frankel's full brother, Noble Mission, to a fourth-placed finish - and Frankel's race, the Juddmonte International. It was somewhat fitting for Sir Henry Cecil to be interviewed in the winners enclosure by UK Channel Four's Derek Thompson. who himself has been recovering from bowel cancer and was had also only returned to the racetrack in the last few weeks. A vocally faint Cecil said "That was great wasn't it? It's great for Yorkshire, they are very supportive of racing. I feel twenty years better now". "Three cheers for Sir Henry" the crowd bellowed after showing similar appreciation for Frankel. Vocally unable to express himself in his normal appreciative and eloquent manner, Cecil tipped his hat in appreciation as he exited the parade ring fully in the knowledge that his last superstar may be his best ever.
Aboard for each and every one of Frankel's scintillating thirteen victories, Queally is enjoying every moment of Frankel's career as the stunning colt continues to improve as each race passes. A horse of a lifetime for the public, things cannot get any better than this for Sir Henry Cecil's stable jockey. "He's not even gone yet and I miss him already" said Queally after the race, "He's the ultimate miler and today he proved he's the ultimate ten furlongs horse too. It's some achievement. He was relaxed all the way and was really rhythm and that's important, especially with the step up in trip.". Twelve months ago, doubters quipped that Frankel would struggle to stay the ten furlong distance due to his inability to settle - today they were proved wrong.
Emphatic in victory over today's distance of ten furlongs, Frankel was not stopping at the wire with Queally, as is Frankel's trademark exuberance at the end of his races, struggling to pull him up for a significant distance. The prospect of Frankel taking on the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe - a race over one-and-a-half furlongs further than today's trip - is now a very real possibility. A race Sir Henry Cecil is yet to win, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp would be Frankel's first foray on foreign soil would be a race Juddmonte Farms would have to supplement Frankel for. As with all of his previous thirteen races, Frankel will tell the team at Warren Place if and when he is ready to race next.
Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)