When I was a lad my favourite racehorses were Brigadier Gerard and Nijinsky. Great thoroughbreds and since the 1960’s Brigadier Gerard has remained at the top of my personal racing chart. A wonderful horse.
That all changed this week. I am sorry Brigadier, but after four decades you have been demoted to second place.
While the previous twelve wins by Frankel put him up there with the greats, vying for favouritism, the performance at York this past week left me both spellbound and smiling. I cannot watch the race back often enough.
Silly me. There was a moment relatively early on when i wondered if Frankel was not ready to race over the further distance. Just a few seconds when, with Frankel near the back of the field, i dared to think that something was wrong.
But as they turned the bend to come up the straight at the Knavesmire Iknew all was well. I could see that jockey Tom Queally was angling Frankel towards the running rail. And that he was not off the bridle.
Indeed Frankel could have won the race without coming off the bridle at all. It was that easy.
But Queally gave Frankel a nudge and, boom, off he went to win by seven lengths.
The difference between this race and the others he had won by big distances was the opposition he beat. St.Nicholas Abbey, a top class horse in his own right, was beaten back into third. He was made to look ordinary, and he is far from that.
Ladies and gentleman, we are living in the time of the greatest racehorse of all time. I don’t expect to see another like him in my lifetime and, as it was the sixties when i last did; many of you of a certain age group also cannot expect to see another like Frankel.
I am delighted the horse put racing on the front pages of newspapers, for the right reason. I am overwhelmed that the gentleman of racing, Sir Henry Cecil, was there to see his superstar triumph again. Cecil is terribly ill and the obituary writers have already penned their tributes.
They are leaving a gap for the fourteenth and final race by Frankel. But which race will it be? As Sir Henry has always said: “the horse will tell us where he will race.”
That approach is part of the reason behind the unbeaten career of Frankel. The care shown by owner and trainer is another.
But Frankel should take the majority of the credit. For those of us who grew up watching ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ television series we now have a real life champion.
I could not begin to put it better than the knowledgeable Jim McGrath who confirmed that “i know the mechanics of form and this is the best horse i have ever seen.”
As Jim said moments after Frankel won at York: “There’s fantasy, there’s fable and there’s Frankel.”