Nick Luck: Frankel can wow us further
Saturday 4 August 2012
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So Frankel has done it again. A 12th straight win, a seventh consecutive Group One, a summary dismissal of high-class rivals with a push-button injection of unimaginable power. There is everything to say and nothing to say: the superlatives have been exhausted and it is becoming ever more inconceivable that he should be defeated, no matter what distance he is asked to run.
Posing new questions to Tom Queally has become the biggest challenge for any writer or broadcaster. As the jockey said himself, "how much better do you want him to be?"
But here's the terrifying thing: there's every reason to imagine Frankel could achieve more in terms of quantifiable merit. There was no hint of his having been fully exerted on Wednesday, and the thought of him barrelling down the four furlong straight at York is the most tantalising of the season.
When Ladbrokes representative David Williams placed an ante-post slip on our Racing UK monitor, I was sure it read 'Frankel - Juddmonte International 1/4', whereupon I stopped the Magic Sign man to tell him he must have missed either a '1' or a '0' off his voucher.
Not so, it seems, as the Rayners Lane odds compilers are showing respect for what would normally be a potent triple threat of Nathaniel, Cirrus Des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey.
But there is something fairly humbling about the idea that a six-length demolition of a horse that went close to winning a bang-up-to-standard Eclipse was looked on by connections in part as a prep to put him "spot on" for what might unfold on the Knavesmire.
And there is no doubt that the marquee performance in Prince Khalid's own race is what Sir Henry Cecil has been building towards all season.
For his part, Cecil will be doing his damnedest to make it there in person, having been forced to miss the QIPCO Sussex Stakes on account of his well documented ill-health. In his absence at Goodwood, he was lauded by Teddy Grimthorpe, who described his comeback as "one of the great sporting stories of all time."
In attempting to strip away the layers of mystique that have built up around Cecil, I pressed Grimthorpe on whether Frankel would have excelled in any other yard, and if not, why not.
It was his view that, given Frankel's explosive nature early in his career, there was every chance that the horse would not have maximised his potential if sent elsewhere.
In addition, he was keen to underline the aspect of Cecil's training that perhaps best defines him: his absolute confidence in his own judgement, and the confidence that he instils in not only the horse's owner, but also those around him.
Let's face it, this column and every other has had its two bob's worth on where Frankel should run, and whom he should be beating. Doubtless everyone involved with the horse has had a raft of opinions, some expressed publicly, others less so.
But you get the feeling that Cecil has - in his own quietly determined way - stuck coolly to his plan, informed by a potent combination of instinct, experience and that absolute lack of self-doubt.
It may be that the owner fancies a dart at the Prix Moulin and - quite possibly - the Breeders' Cup Classic. It may well be that Frankel tackles one or both of those assignments. But, if so, it will be Cecil's understanding of his horse which informs the decision.