Frankel Wins 7th But Unconvincing At Royal Ascot

Frankel has stretched his winning streak to seven but not after withstanding one of his biggest scares yet.

The English superstar is ranked on level terms with Black Caviar in the world thoroughbred ratings and started as a huge favourite at Royal Ascot.

He was contesting the St James Palace Stakes over a mile against a fairly small field but one with a few well performed internationals.

For many the hypothetical battle between Black Caviar and Frankel is an almost unwinnable argument but  last night was a pivotal race to determine how good he really was.

He had dominated the fields in previous races by jumping off the front early and simply running them off their feet.

His last start was a six length demolition in the Group 1 2000 Guineas and everyone was expecting a similar result at Royal Ascot.

When they jumped from the gates Frankel’s stablemate Rerouted acted as a pacemaker charging to a big lead and controlling the tempo for the first few furlongs.

Frankel sat back in the main pack early before being pushed up along the rail to muscle his way past the horse in front of him.

Then  Tom Queally said go and he lunged forward and picked up the pace maker in a matter of seconds.

He opened up a commanding lead at the top fo the straight and it looked like it could be his biggest victory to date.

Half way along the straight though the horses behind were making in-roads, in fact Frankel really started to labour through the final 300m.

The last 100m was easily the toughest of his career as he all but fell across the line, winning the race but by less than a length.

If there was any more distance there’s no way he would have held off the run from the second placed Zoffany or potentially even Excelebration in third.

While it may have been an unconvincing finish the fact is he was still good enough to win his third Group 1 and he remains undefeated in his career.

Legendary trainer Henry Cecil admits there were some anxious moments going into the final furlong and says the race certainly didn’t pan out as expected.

“That was a bit nerve-wracking and it didn’t go to plan,” Cecil said.

“He is growing up but it just went a little bit wrong today.

“He looked as if he was going to win a big more easily and I think that he thought that he had just done enough.”

The horse showed no signs of eagerness early on and in fact looked extremely comfortable sitting in the pack.

It was a move by the jockey not the horse to go forward so early in the race and something which will certainly change next time out.

“He settled really well – very, very well,” Cecil said.

“The pacemaker went off quite fast and he was very, very settled and he (Tom Queally) had to ask him to take it up and he said when he was in front he thought he’d done enough.

“Tom (Queally) said he was very settled and we can ride him properly now.

“In the Royal Lodge (September, 2010) the further he went the better he was, but he’s getting older and wiser now and he thought he’d done enough and was getting a bit bored.”

While few have the credibility to argue with Henry Cecil, saying Frankel simply got bored is a big statement with the horse showing clear signs of exhaustion in the closing stages.

Some said it showed his limit was the 1600m, however there’s every chance he could run a mile and a half, but only if connections are prepared to let him settle for a lot longer.

Still, Queally echoed the words of Cecil and from his point of view he thinks the win was never in doubt either.

“He jumped a little bit slow and he settled better than before,” he said.

“He was on his own for a long way and he was getting a bit fed up in the front.

“He’s done it so easy. He’s growing up all the time.

“People think he just jumps and runs but he’s more versatile than that.

“We have got options regarding tactics and he is still the one to beat at the moment.

“He’s getting more professional with every run and he’s starting to know he’s good now.”

With that being said it’s almost a given that longer races are well and truly an option but it would be extraordinary if he persisted with the same tactics on a bigger trip against older horses.

Only time will tell but Cecil gave a strong hint of what’s to come.

“I think Frankel will stay further although obviously I’m not certain,” Cecil said.

If he did it would potentially open the door for a tantalising clash with Australian superstar So You Think later in the carnival.

So You Think will make his Royal Ascot debut as a similarly short priced favourite later tonight.

About The Author