By Darragh Farrelly
On Saturday, the career of the world’s highest-rated racehorse and arguably the greatest of all-time, Frankel, will come to an end as he runs in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
The Henry Cecil-trained four-year-old has taken to the racecourse 13 times in his racing career, now in its third season, and on all occasions has come out victorious. Indeed, should he win next Saturday, for which he is a best-priced 1/10, he will set a new European record for nine wins at Group level.
Should Frankel win the £1.3m prize fund in Britain’s richest race on October 20th, the question will have to be asked: is he the greatest horse of all-time?
It’s an impossible question to answer, despite the undoubted majesty of the colt.
Pundits older and a lot wiser than myself will point to the supreme Brigadier Gerard, winner of 17 of his 18 starts, 12 of which were at Group One level, or more recently Sea The Stars – the best of his generation, winning the 2,00 Oaks, The Derby and The Arc in his three-year-old season.
However, none were as dominant, or indeed as impressive as Frankel has been in victory.
When you take into consideration that the highest rated horse in the world has won his last six races by a combined total of 38 lengths, and the calibre of horse he has beaten, he is quite simply a freak.
His last outing at York in the Juddmonte International back in August was his best display on a racecourse. Tackling 10 furlongs for the first time in his career, the champion kicked for home two out, and breezed passed his rivals, winning by seven lengths.
Many racing enthusiasts were a touch disappointed that Sir Henry Cecil and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah bypassed the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in favour of this more prosaic last hurrah.
If Hollywood script writers were penning his last hurrah, he would have been taken to Longchamp, proving his worth as the best thoroughbred in Europe, and then maybe finishing off in style at the Breeders’ Cup in the States.
There is, though, the side story. Frankel’s trainer Sir Henry Cecil is currently suffering from cancer. The legendary trainer put his illness to one side to witness Frankel win the Juddmonte in his last outing. Speaking after the race in a mere whisper, a side effect of his chemotherapy, Cecil said “that was great, wasn’t it?
“It’s fantastic. It’s great for Yorkshire, they are very supportive of racing and they deserve to see him.”
Asked how it made him feel, the trainer said: “Twenty years better.”
I am envious of those who will make the trip to Ascot to see the world’s greatest horse.
Who knows when we will see his like again?
Frankel is more than just a racehorse, he is an icon of his sport. He is what Lionel Messi is to football, what Michael Jordan was to basketball. It doesn’t matter if he’s the greatest ever or not, we should be grateful that we were fortunate enough to see the son of Galileo in our lifetime. Horses like Frankel don’t come along very often.
Sire: Galileo. Dam: Kind
Foaled: February 11, 2008
Owner: Prince Khalid Abdullah
Trainer: Sir Henry Cecil
Career earnings: £2,261,071
Race record: 13 wins from 13 starts, including nine victories at Group One level.
Group One victories: Juddmonte International (2012); Sussex Stakes (2012); Queen Anne Stakes (2012); Lockinge Stakes (2012); Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (2011); Sussex Stakes (2011); St James’s Palace Stakes (2011): 2000 Guineas (2011); Dewhurst Stakes (2010).
Other notable wins: Greenham Stakes (2011), Royal Lodge Stakes (2010).