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Frankel locks horns with St Nicholas Abbey‏

The defining moment of a champion, a step up in trip that has been long overdue. On Wednesday, Sir Henry Cecil's exceptional four year old colt, Frankel, bids to further enhance his reputation in his inaugural attempt at the ten furlongs trip in his sponsor's race, the Juddmonte International. The highlight of the opening day of York's four day mid-season festival, the unbeaten Frankel will once again be partnered by Tom Queally in his long awaited step up in trip in which eight rivals stand in his way of yet another enthralling victory. 

Towed once again by his work colleague, Bullet Train looks to ensure a familiar pace for his 'commander in chief' in a race which will see the world's horse racing audience entirely captivated for a period of one hundred and fourty seconds. Frankel is also joined by the defending champion and stable mate, Twice Over. Victory in the 2011 Juddmonte International saw Prince Khalid Abdulla finally gain victory in the race he has sponsored since 1989. A four-time Group 1 winner, Twice Over provided jockey Ian Mongan with his finest hour in this race last year and comes into this race off the back of a third-placed finish in the Coral-Eclipse behind Nathaniel. With Mongan on Twice Over yet again, Eddie Ahern comes in for the ride on Bullet Train. A forgotten man of the British racing circuit at times, Ahern has been in scintillating form himself this season with a double of victories at Newmarket further ensuring that his name isn't forgotten just yet. 

Already responsible for five rivals previously propelled towards Frankel in an attempt to dethrone the people's champion, Aidan O'Brien is again responsible for the main challenger to Frankel's throne at York. A four-time Group 1 winner, St Nicholas Abbey enters this race arguably as the toughest rival Frankel is yet to face with victories in the Breeders Cup Turf and Epsom Coronation Cup his most notable victories in a stop-start career. A champion in his two year old season, the winter of 2009 held the prospect of St Nicholas Abbey returning from his winter break as an incredible exciting prospect, yet unlike Frankel St Nicholas Abbey was unable to capitalise on that debut season form when running out a well beaten favourite in the 2010 English 2000 Guineas. It was a full year before St Nicholas Abbey returned to the racetrack after that performance but performances in 2011 and in 2012, so far, have proved right the Coolmore operation to be patient with their son of Montjeu.  

St Nicholas Abbey is an intriguing for Frankel to face on his first step up in trip. Somewhat of an underachiever when faced with a right-handed race track, St Nicholas Abbey has an exceptional record when facing the proposition of racing left-handed. In six races left handed, St Nicholas Abbey has been beaten by one horse and one, Cirrus des Aigles in the Dubai Sheema Classic of 2012, in a race which many believe the five year old son of Montjeu was caught out by the exaggerated waiting tactics of his nineteen year old pilot, Joseph O'Brien.

O'Brien has experienced both praise and criticism from the racing media and public alike for his decisions aboard St Nicholas Abbey, yet few can take away the superb association he holds with the colt when driving home left handed. Scintillating in victory at Epsom, O'Brien managed to push his star horse home for a four length domination despite dropping his whip when clear and in-front towards the final stages of the Coronation Cup. Similarly, O'Brien was faultless in the Breeders Cup Turf of 2011, in which he made history by becoming one half of the first father-son combination to win a Breeders Cup race. Criticism was strong following the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last time, in which O'Brien anchored his charge a significant distance away from the front of the pack in a manouvere which many believe cost St Nicholas Abbey the race. Anchored a good ten lengths off the field, St Nicholas Abbey was eventually defeated by an ever-diminishing length-and-a-half. 

On Wednesday, Aidan O'Brien enters both Robin Hood and Windsor Palace seemingly in an attempt to ensure a tag-team pacemaking effect to ensure the hottest pace possible to pick away at any chinks in Frankel's armour over this extended distance. A pace that should play into the hands of a mile-and-a-half proven performer such as St Nicholas Abbey, there are no concerns from the Juddmonte camp who quite clearly announced that Frankel will not be ridden any differently on Wednesday. To them, and to the many onlookers, he has already proved his is ready for a step up in trip such is the manner of his gallop out at the end of his races. 

To the minority, Frankel has failed to achieve the epitome of his capabilities and to those few voices a defeat of St Nicholas Abbey on a solitary occasion may prove fruitless. However, to the majority, the people that have followed and been amazed by the capabilities of the Galileo colt, victory over St Nicholas Abbey will mark a defining moment and a further compliment to his ever expanding resume. 

Planteur, Sri Putra and Godolphin's progressive Sussex Stakes second-placed finisher, Farhh, complete the field. 

 

Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin  (Goodtosoft.co.uk)    

 

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Older Comments about Frankel locks horns with St Nicholas Abbey‏...

Beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr_ChX6Jv4s
Frankel, "My God what a performance" is right Ms Commentator! I guess the 2 mile morning gallops makes this race just a drop int he bucket for him. Please Sir Cecil send him to the BC, pweese.
3 wt 7 wt 246 wt 246 super
10:45EST
8 minutes to post EST.
I think it is 9:45 eastern
Does anyone know who won or what time the race starts US Eastern time?
This is going to be tough for Frankel. He will go way further than ever before, and face TOUGHER horses than ever. I'm not a BIG fan of euro racing, although I do believe Twice Over, Farhh, and St. Nicholas Abbey are great horses. I'm not saying Frankel won't win, but I don't think he'll win with ease.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • edgaropena · I agree, with the way he wins by multiple open lengths the distance is no prob, he even has the pedigree to back it up. Frankel is a real pro and you got to love this horse the way he responds when asked. O'Brien has a real challenge what to do with Frankel though. Frankel has such a good pace and turn of foot that I do not think St. Nicholas Abbey will be able to handle. Just like his sire Galileo he will fight to the end if remotely challenged. · 762 days ago
  • rafirox · Maybe I just don't know euro racing that well. Everyone else thinks Frankel can win easily. So, I guess I'm probably wrong about it. The distance shouldn't be a problem for him. Son of Galileo · 761 days ago
EVEN in Europe, pace will make the race, THAT IS if anyone can go with this one late. BUT at the distance that is a real possibility
Thank god he is moving on to 10+ !! this makes me happy.
This race should be no more than a jog in the park, hitting the 2 mile mark would concern me because he may start to tire, just a little.
The stamina question of whether Frankel will stay further than a mile is getting ready to be answered on Wednesday in the G1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York over 10f. Personally, I think Frankel will stay 10 or even 10-1/2f standing on his head. I'm a big fan of St Nicholas Abbey, also. But not at this trip. I think 12f is a minimum trip for SNA nowadays. But times SNA has raced at 10f in Ireland, he's been defeated by horses far inferior to himself. I think Planteur at his best could be the biggest threat, and I could possibly see Farhh closing the gap a little bit from what Frankel put between them in the G1 Sussex Stakes recently at a mile. But here's the thing, if stamina really doesn't turn out to be an issue for Frankel, and he's still able to show that blistering turn of foot he has at the end of 10f with the same level of devastation that he's shown it over a mile, than who the hell is honestly ever gone catch this beast? If Frankel handles 10f as easily as I'm predicting he will, he'll blow apart the middle distance division with however many races are left in his career with the same ease he's blown apart the mile division. But that's only one man's opinion.
Im curious to know what odds Frankel will go off at.
I've been saying for over a year that Frankel could get this distance, so I'm sticking with him in his first 10f test.
I actually think his competition will come from Planteur, who is most definitely a 10F type, and who has defeated the likes of Cirrus des Aigles and Cape Blanco. And he is coming off a freshening. I am not so sure St. Nick will relish the 1 1/4 (and 88 yds), even with the pacesetters. Frankel continues to bring his own pacesetter in Bullet Train anyway. Cecil has been targeting this specific race, and I do not see Frankel losing.
no nathaniel, gosden opting to send him irish champion stakes next month.
Nathaniel not in?
Glad to see you enjoyed the article, Edgar ;)
Oh, I forgot to say. Frankel will win and make Sir Henry Cecil and Bobby Frankel proud. His timeform of 147 is no joke.
Frankel will win with ease like usual.

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