Cecil: “I am not retiring”
Saturday 29 September 2012
By Geoffrey Riddle
Sir Henry Cecil poured scorn on any suggestions that he was retiring due to ill health after Frankel confirmed his wellbeing with a public racecourse gallop at Newmarket on Saturday.
The world's highest-rated racehorse worked under Tom Queally over nine furlongs along the Rowley Mile to step up his preparations for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot next month.
Cecil, Frankel's trainer, was on hand to saddle his stable star personally.
"I'm fine. I read somewhere that I am going to retire," he said. "The only retiring I'm going to do is to have a good holiday," he said in a whisper as he recovers from a throat infection and his treatment for cancer. He added: "Frankel had a nice blow this morning but he had to because it is not D-Day."
Frankel was supposed to be joined by Midsummer Sun in his workout but late yesterday it was announced that Specific Gravity would be involved alongside Bullet Train.
Specific Gravity was ridden by Shane Featherstonhaugh, Frankel’s regular work rider, and Bullet Train was partnered by Danny Dunnachie.
All three jockeys wore silks, with Frankel and Bullet Train in Prince Khalid Abdullah's colours and Featherstonhaugh in the Niarchos family's crossed blue.
Frankel was the last of the trio to be saddled by Cecil, who walked about the paddock without the need of the stick that aided him when Frankel successfully stepped up in trip to win the Juddmonte International Stakes at York in August.
Bullet Train set a fair clip with Specific Gravity in behind. Frankel looked exuberant out the back and entering The Dip he cleared Specific Gravity and then pulled away from Bullet Train coming up the hill to the generous applause of the sizeable crowd.
"He seemed as good as ever," Queally said, having not sat on Frankel since York. "We've got a bit of time to put everything together and the finishing touches."
The public workout was set up in preference to a run in the Prix Moulin at Longchamp last month, when Moonlight Cloud defeated only three rivals. Cecil stated that Frankel would not have "achieved much" had he sent the unbeaten son of Galileo across the Channel and Lord Grimthorpe explained the thinking further.
"He wants to be kept a lean, mean, racing machine," Abdullah's racing manager said. "That was the whole point of this exercise, it was designed to keep him up to speed as they get clever after a while.
"He's done everything that we wanted him to do. He stretched a little bit and the whole idea was to give him a little bit extra. He has been reminded that there is work to do."
Today’s gallop is almost certainly the penultimate time that the world will get a glimpse of Frankel on a racecourse. The Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in three weeks is set to provide a fitting stage for Frankel’s swansong, although Lord Grimthorpe tantalisingly offered up the possibility that Frankel may race on.
"You never say never," he said. "Everyone has enjoyed it but it is entirely Prince Khalid's decision and it is for him to say when the curtain comes down. We are not suddenly going to jump out and say 'we are going to go to this, that and the other. It is likely (he will retire)"
Frankel is a best-priced 1-10 for the Champion Stakes, and is odds-on to win by six lengths or more.
How far will Frankel win the Qipco Champion Stakes by? - William Hill: 4-5 By 6 lengths or more, 7-4 By 8 lengths or more, 4-1 By 10 lengths or more
How far will Frankel win the Qipco Champion Stakes by? - Paddy Power: 6-4 8 lengths or more, 2-1 up to and including 5 lengths, 4-1 6-7 lengths inclusive
Frankel's next sibling - Paddy Power: 4-6 to win any race, 5-6 to be a colt, to be a filly, 16 to be named after Sir Henry Cecil, 50 to win a British classic
Frankel’s Official Rating at the end fo the season - Coral: Evs 140, 13-8 141, 11-2 142, 11-1 143 or higher, 40-1 139 or lower