Fabulous Frankel one for the ages
RACING ROYAL ASCOT REPORT AND PREVIEW:ROYAL ASCOT 2012 didn’t save its best for last as Frankel put up a performance in the opening Queen Anne Stakes that ranks with anything seen on a racecourse in Europe.
Later in the day Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach maintained his unbeaten record with a Coventry Stakes victory that contained more than enough promise of a successful classic campaign in 2013.
But Frankel’s display was one for the ages – one that had Timeform give him a provisional rating of 147, the highest in their long history.
An 11-length rout of his old rival Excelebration set other handicap ratings whirring too, trying to put a statistical framework on Frankel’s abilities while everyone else grappled with what they had seen.
And the real eye-popping part of it is that the Sir Henry Cecil-trained superstar didn’t look to be pushed anywhere near his limit.
Three furlongs out jockey Tom Queally pulled Frankel out from behind his pacemaker. From there to the line, the world’s highest-rated horse sustained a burst of acceleration that pulverised his opposition without Queally having to reach for his whip.
Unlike other legendary names of the European turf like Sea The Stars, Nijinsky or Sea Bird – horses capable of winning without having to exhibit the limits of their superiority – Frankel’s style is to rout his opponents from or at the front, more in the flamboyant style of an American dirt horse.
The result has been a succession of wide-margin wins that have had handicappers purring. But this display was on another level again, while leaving open the tantalising prospect of possibly even more to come.
“The facts are that Frankel’s performance is likely to surpass anything witnessed in Timeform’s 64-year history. In provisionally rating Frankel 147 we still have Excelebration running more than a stone below his previous best (133),” said Timeform Flat editor David Johnson.
Cecil, however, described the statistical breakdown of different horses from different generations and from different countries as “double-dutch” and preferred to celebrate Frankel simply as a real champion.
“He is a great horse and you’ve seen him for yourself so everybody can form their own opinion. He did exactly what I thought but he’s still improving, Tom said he’s still improving. He looks as if he’ll stay a mile and a quarter so we’ll leave our options open,” said the trainer.
“He’s in the Eclipse, he’s in the Sussex, he’s in the Juddmonte and the two races at the end of the year. He’ll tell me what to do next, I don’t tell him,” added Cecil.
The nearest any horse has got to Frankel was in last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes where Queally’s misjudgment allowed Zoffany get closer than ordinarily he had any right to. Aidan O’Brien’s attempt to win the St James’s Palace for a seventh time failed as Power faded behind Most Improved who gave Kieren Fallon a taste of Group 1 success again.
A campaign involving the Futurity, the National Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes is on Dawn Approach’s agenda after making it four from four already this season.
Dawn Approach is as low as 10-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas.
“He has pace, he has stamina . . . There are no holes in this fellow. I don’t see him going beyond a mile and . . . That will do me,” said trainer Jim Bolger.
Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins had a first Royal Ascot winner when Simenon obliged in the Ascot Stakes. “I think I might leave him here because he’s in the Queen Alexandra on Saturday and we’ll see how he comes out of this,” said Mullins of the Ryan Moore ridden winner.