Frankel sounds warning to Black Caviar with resounding win
Frankel and jockey Tom Queally score perfect 10 in stunning win
The world’s number one rated horse, Frankel, returned to racetrack for the first time in seven months on Saturday afternoon with a commanding five-length win in the Lockinge Stakes over 1609 metres at Newbury in England.
The four-year old son of Epsom Derby winner Galileo was sent around at odds of 1/3 (or $1.33) and proved far too strong for the world’s second best miler Excelebration who was simply no match for Frankel in the Group One feature.
It’s quite a remarkable feat by Frankel, who only a month ago was rumoured to be retired after suffering a leg injury at morning trackwork. Luckily for racing fans, the horse valued at over £100m, was cleared of any damage enabling him to continue racing.
Saturday’s win – his tenth in an undefeated career – was incredibly soft. Jockey Tom Queally settled Frankel behind pace-maker and three-quarter brother Bullet Train before allowing the colt to stride to the lead before the 400 metre mark.
Aiden O’Brien, trainer of runner-up Excelebration, was confident of upsetting Frankel but his horse could not quicken with the champion. Excelebration accounted for the rest of the field comfortably but succumbed to Frankel for a fourth time.
Frankel’s winning margin of five lengths is the biggest to have separated these two horses. O’Brien was sure Excelebration had improved but perhaps it is Frankel that has advanced.
And if true, it must be a massive blow to those hoping for a Frankel-Black Caviar match-up in August’s Sussex Stakes.
I don’t think Black Caviar’s connections will want to take Frankel on if they don’t believe they are much chance of victory and an improving Frankel may well be unbeatable at a mile in his home country.
Frankel is rated seven points higher than Black Caviar in Timeform’s global rankings. To put that into perspective, between Black Caviar (rated second in the world at 136) and Americain (rated equal 14th in the world at 129) there are 11 horses and seven rating points.
As far as Timeform is concerned, Frankel is clearly the best horse in the world.
In fact, in 64 years of ratings horses, Frankel’s rating of 143 is the fourth highest Timeform rating ever.
For a horse that has only had ten starts, the Sir Henry Cecil-trained galloper is creating quite a stir. On Saturday, immediately after his win “Frankel” was trending worldwide on twitter. Most of that tweeting appeared to be coming from English computers.
On an afternoon where there was test-match cricket, an international golf tournament, the Champions League final, Championship playoff final and Heineken Cup final being played in England or involving teams or players from England, it is quite incredible that a horse was able to make such a mark.
This should come as no surprise to Australians who are quite accustomed to seeing horse racing get plenty of airtime during the spring carnival but for English racing this is quite extraordinary.
Grand National aside, English horse racing doesn’t often resonate with rank and file sport fans.
I remember watching Channel Seven’s broadcast of the 2010 Melbourne Cup Carnival when Bruce McAvaney asked Francesca Cumani, daughter of England-based trainer Luca, who the Phar Lap of English racing was?
In other words, who was the greatest, most legendary horse in the history of British racing?
And after asking Bruce for a few moments to think about it, Francesca couldn’t be sure who it was.
In 300 years of organised horse racing in Britain, there is no Sir Donald Bradman, no Dally Messenger, no Phar Lap for the sport to embrace as the greatest.
Maybe Frankel is that horse.
As Greg Wood wrote on The Guardian website on Friday, ‘But a Frankel who could come through his four-year-old season and retire unbeaten would enter a debate that spans many decades and generations with a very solid case of his own’.