Frankel’s increase in distance lifts rivals’ hopes
HE’S ranked as the world’s greatest racehorse but in the early hours of tomorrow morning he goes into uncharted territory.
Frankel, the English superstar galloper, has established his reputation mostly over 1400 metres and 1600 metres with aggressive displays of sheer speed and power that blow away his rivals long before the finish line.
Unbeaten in 12 starts, the four-year-old stallion puts his record on the line at York when he steps up in distance to 2000 metres for the first time in a group 1 race, which is sponsored by his owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms.
Black Caviar, the Australian champion unbeaten in her 22 starts, has stuck to sprint races in her four-season career but she showed her adaptability and versatility by travelling across the globe to triumph, albeit narrowly, at Royal Ascot in June.
In contrast Frankel has stuck close to his Newmarket base and his trip to Yorkshire will be only the second time he has travelled to the north of England for a race.
He could face eight opponents, several of whom have useful enough form to suggest that if there is a chink in his armour they could take advantage.
St Nicholas Abbey, from the Aidan O’Brien camp, shapes as his biggest challenger. The five-year-old hit his straps last season after a disappointing three-year-old campaign and finished the year with a victory in the Breeders Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.
Earlier this year he beat Melbourne Cup runner up Red Cadeaux by almost five lengths in the group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom and more recently finished 1½ lengths third to last year’s Arc winner, Danedream, in the group 1 King George VI Stakes at Ascot.
Others who would be ready to take advantage of any unexpected stamina limitations on Frankel’s part include his stablemate Twice Over, the globetrotting Planteur, who is a possible for the Cox Plate later this year, and Sri Putra, a group 2 winner over course and distance last time out.
But it would be a brave man who would bet against Frankel.
The striking bay stallion is by Galileo and is bred to be better the further he goes and, certainly, the way Frankel finishes off his races, it appears a longer trip will suit him. But until he proves it, there is always the chance of an upset.