Frankel steps into the unknown
20 Aug 2012
The world's best racehorse has beaten all-comers over a mile, but now the moment has arrived where he will meet a new set of horses over a mile and a quarter. Will he remain just as dominant? We won't have to wait long for the answer!
Frankel and jockey Tom Queally looking to make it 13 out of 13 on Wednesday. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.
The big moment of the Flat season so far is fast approaching and the eyes of the racing world will be fixed firmly on York for the first day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival on Wednesday.
Soon after 3.40pm we will know the answer to a burning question – will Frankel have the stamina for an extended mile and a quarter after thrashing all-comers over a mile? Could he, in fact, be even better over middle distances and stamp himself well and truly as the best of all time?
The official handicappers have made their feelings known for some time. Unless Frankel beats a different pool of horses, there is little prospect of him emulating, or even eclipsing, the all-time rating high of 141 awarded to the brilliant Dancing Brave, who excelled over distances from a mile to a mile and half back in 1986.
Frankel is currently rated 140, making him by far the best in the world at the current time, but now he will meet different opposition, most notably St Nicholas Abbey who has a brilliant record on left-handed tracks like York.
The dual Investec Coronation Cup winner, who also landed last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, excels over a mile and a half, so will have stamina to burn over the 300 yards shorter trip on Wednesday.
With his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, running two pacemakers, Windsor Palace and Robin Hood, the Ballydoyle tactics are clear – make it as strong a pace as possible to try to exploit any weakness in Frankel’s stamina and set the race up for the one horse that’s absolutely guaranteed to stay, St Nicholas Abbey.
Farhh, an unlucky third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot before running Nathaniel close in the Coral-Eclipse, may also pose a threat, even though Frankel brushed him aside last time out in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes.
Farhh’s connections feel that stepping back up to a mile and quarter will see him in a better light, but he has appeared to be better on softer ground which looks very unlikely on Wednesday.
Last year’s winner, Twice Over, stable companion of Frankel, is also in the race, but Farhh beat him fair and square in the Eclipse and at the age of seven his best days are almost certainly behind him.
Planteur and Sri Putra both have a lot to find on this season’s form, while Bullet Train is there to set a steady pace for Frankel, though whether he’ll get to see the front given the presence of the Ballydoyle pacemakers remains to be seen.
It promises to be a thrilling contest and everyone will be watching and waiting to see if Frankel’s high cruising speed and awesome burst of acceleration remain as potent over Wednesday’s trip.
It promises to be one hell of a race as Frankel seeks to make it 13 wins from 13 starts, so make sure you tune into Channel 4 or Racing UK to watch it!