Frankel’s Legacy: the margin of his victories
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Last Saturday’s Champion Day at Ascot was a defining day for Frankel’s legacy.
Excelebration’s three length QE11 victory in a field that included Group One winners Cityscape and Elusive Kate complimented Frankel nearly as much as the feature race.
Excelebration has now won eight races, four of which were Group One’s, without Frankel presence. There is now every reason to believe that Excelebration would have been a champion miler in another era.
Frankel’s performance in the Champion Stakes answered one main question about the horse, that is that conditions, tactics and the quality of opposition are irrelevant to him. Here lies the true greatness of Frankel.
He started the race poorly, Queally had to ride the horse back into the race at an early stage and he was up against Cirrus Des Aigles who had ground conditions and distance in his favour, but none of these could deter the colt that has always pushed the boundaries.
Out of champion racehorse and sire Galileo and Danehill mare Kind, Frankel is equine perfection, a result of 300 years of selective thoroughbred breeding.
Ever since his annihilation of 2000 Guineas field as a three year old, anyone who viewed this race knew this was a special horse.
The defining moment for the horse that year was the ‘Dual on the Downs’ in the Sussex Stakes against Canford Cliffs. Canford Cliffs, rated 133 by Timeform, had previously beaten the mighty Goldikova in a high class renewal of the Queen Anne stakes. Frankel was imperious in his performance that day, smashing Canford Cliffs by five lengths.
In the Queen Anne this year, Frankel gave his visually most impressive performance destroying a field including Excelebration and Caulfield Guineas winner Helmet by 11 lengths.
That’s what made Frankel so unusual, the margin of his victories.
I heard Irish trainer John Oxx talking about this on Champions Day. He described the horse as having abundant energy, if he could win with lengths to spare he would and he did on several occasions. That’s what set him apart from other recent champions like Sea the Stars.
Sea the Stars would do just enough in front whereas Frankel couldn’t win by enough. Critics of Frankel will say he never ran abroad, in truth I don’t think he ever had to, his form lines were international and he defeated the world’s best horses at home.
Cirrus Des Aigles, Canford Cliffs, Nathaniel and Excelebration are or were among the best middle distance and mile performers around.
Likewise there is a sentiment among some that Frankel’s connections should have stepped him to 2400m in the King George and the Arc. There might be some justification in this, it would have been interesting to see him perform at this distance to see if he could be as dominant. However I believe that this years Champions Stakes field was far more superior to that of the Arc’s.
The popularity of Frankel with general public was unusual for an English flat horse, this adulation is usually reserved for National Hunt/Jumps horses.
Frankel transcended this. He was magnificent.
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