Longchamp test will allow Frankel to become “best he can be”
23 August 2012
Sir Henry Cecil has never won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The ten-times champion trainer may have accumulated more Royal Ascot victories than any other handler, won every British Classic more than once but the middle-distance championship of Europe has always alluded him.
A frail but fighting figure in an uncharacteristic blue trilby, Cecil required a walking stick with which to lap up the significant praise and warmth generated by the 30,000 crowd at the Knavesmire yesterday.
The Juddmonte International Stakes safely in the bag for another year for his staunch and equally frail patron, Prince Khalid Abdullah, Cecil must realise that Frankel could well be his best chance of registering a victory in Paris. He has not won a Group One race with any other horse since Twice Over won the International from stablemate Midday last season.
Of course, the Juddmonte production line might well roll off another champion in the next few years, as the Saudi Arabian prince hoped yesterday in his interview to Racing UK. Frankel has another brother ready to be unleashed on racecourses around the country this year in the shape of Morpheus, by Oasis Dream. There is also a yearling filly, as yet unnamed, and his dam, Kind, is once again in foal to Galileo.
Abdullah has won the Arc four times, most recently with Workforce, but his generosity to his long-serving trainer would know no bounds should he finally persuade the master of Warren Place to run Frankel at Longchamp.
The Prince inferred yesterday that he would certainly try, but nagging in the back of his 75-year-old mind is that he does not believe that Frankel will stay beyond 10 furlongs.
Although John Magnier sportingly told Abdullah that there would be no funny business ahead of the race yesterday, it scarcely made a difference to the performance of the world’s best thoroughbred. Tom Queally rode a pace to ensure Frankel got the extended ten furlongs. Frankel was placed in seventh of the nine runners right up until the field hit the straight. If you look at the sectional timings Frankel then delivered late his customary burst of acceleration that took him flying past St Nicholas Abbey and Farhh to the line.
It is only another 352 yards to the finishing post at Longchamp but unlike yesterday when Frankel defeated Farhh, who is 0-4 in Group One races and St Nicholas Abbey, who is yet to record a victory at ten furlongs, the Arc field will not be so light on quality.
Danedream was the fastest winner of the Arc in the 91-year history of the 12-furlong contest. She confirmed her ability by beating a quality field in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in July.
Nathaniel will make it a searching test, also, and the Japanese raider, Orfevre, who touches down in France later this month will surely outrun his dismissive price of 16-1. And then there is Camelot, who could arrive on the Bois du Boulogne as a Triple Crown victor.
Defeat has not taken the sheen off the likes of racing legends such as Brigadier Gerard and Zenyatta and an imperfect record lost in pursuit of Arc glory is unlikely to dent Frankel’s £100m price tag.
Cecil and Abdullah have long maintained that they will do what is best for Frankel, and steer him along a path that will allow him "to be the best that he can be".
Frankel did not beat very much yesterday. He proved he could get ten furlongs and 88 yards. Forget Ascot and run him in Paris. A win there and Frankel will undisputedly become the greatest thoroughbred that ever lived, which is certainly the best he can be.