Frankel will go down as one of the best horses we have ever seen in Flat racing and given the fact we are two years on from his final race – which was the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot – we feel as though it’s time to look back on a quite incredible career.
Trained by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel was the kind of horse that people felt privileged to watch and he was unbeaten over 14 starts, something that we might not see again.
We first saw him back in 2010 and it wasn’t a surprise to see him running at Newmarket in the European Breeders’ Fund Maiden Stakes, which was held over a distance of one mile. In this encounter, you could get odds of 7/4 on a win for Frankel and the bookies wouldn’t ever have him odds-against after that. He took the race narrowly, so got that winning feeling and many got the feeling this horse could go onto good things, but predicting the success he would have was almost impossible.
After his debut, Cecil’s charge went in the Frank Whittle Partnership Conditions Stakes and was a winner by a massive twelve lengths. Many horse racing fans were starting to get excited about how good this two-year-old was and he seemed to be generating a superb relationship with jockey Tom Quellay.
Frankel finished 2010 with a ten-length win in a Group 2 at Ascot and then a Group 1 – The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket – in October. It was the perfect finish to the year and he didn’t stop improving. However, it was just the start of what was to come from this horse. He was proving to be a machine.
2011 saw Frankel pick up from where he left off and in April, he showed he was one of the greatest as he took the QIPCO 2000 Guineas by six lengths, which was the second biggest victory in this race. It left Quellay somewhat speechless in his post-race interview and he admitted that he has never seen a horse quite like the one he was riding. The sense of elation and pride you got from the jockey was fantastic. He couldn’t believe his luck. He was the man riding Frankel.
Big race wins were becoming somewhat of a formality for the horse at this stage of his career and he took the QIPCO Sussex Stakes at Goodwood by five lengths and then the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. At the end of the season, Cecil said he believed that Frankel was only going to get better in 2012 and many couldn’t contain their excitement. He was already one of the best ever, and was set to improve.
If there was one man that could make a talent like Frankel stronger, then it was Sir Henry and 2012 proved to be quite incredible as the then four-year-old produced spine-tingling performances when taking five out of fives encounters.
It started with the JLT Lockinge Stakes and that was soon followed up by the Queen Anne Stakes, which he took by an incredible eleven lengths. At this time, Frankel was going off with an SP of 1/10 and it wasn’t as though he was facing weak horses as the likes of Excelebration were competing.
So, there were just three races to go for Frankel and in August, he defended his Sussex Stakes title in some style. This race saw the horse priced at 1/20 – which was the shortest he had been.
Cecil then chose to step Frankel up to the distance of one mile and two furlongs and as ever, he didn’t disappoint, winning the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and then the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Never are we likely to see a horse like Frankel again and when Sir Henry Cecil says: “He’s not just the best horse I have trained, but the best I’ve ever seen” it shows you just how good he was.
A monster, a freak, world-class, unbeatable, the best ever – use whichever one you like – because Frankel was something else. Miss him racing? Well, so do we.