Fans of Flat racing's chief equine celebrity, the magnificent, unbeaten Frankel, will be gratified to know that their hero has not merely come through the winter well, but so well that a public appearance has had to be planned ahead of his first scheduled race, the Lockinge Stakes in mid-May.
In order to keep the lid on the colt's growing exuberance, his trainer Sir Henry Cecil will give him an awayday from the routine of the Newmarket gallops, probably at the scene of next month's Group One mile feature, Newbury, at the track's first Flat meeting of the season in 16 days' time.
"We've done a lot of conditioning work with him," said Cecil yesterday of the four-year-old, "and we've started stronger work. But he's a precocious type, wants to get on with things, and he can get a bit above himself. It's a long time until the Lockinge and you can't keep asking and asking at home.
"What he needs at this stage is an easy race, and a trip to Newbury will be like that. He can stay overnight, have a gallop on the course and a look at everything, be told how great he is, and have a few quiet days. It all fits in well with his schedule."
Frankel's trademark electric brilliance is being tempered by maturity. "He is growing up mentally as well as physically," added Cecil. "I've had the challenge of strong-headed, hyperactive horses before and found that sometimes that sort hasn't got a brain. But this one is intelligent. The most important thing has been to teach him to relax and he's starting to learn that he can save himself for when it matters."
Khaled Abdullah's home-bred has yet to race beyond a mile but, though the step up to 10 furlongs is widely expected, the details of the Galileo colt's campaign beyond the Lockinge have yet to be inked in his diary. "The races are there," Cecil said. "The Queen Anne or the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot, the Eclipse, the Sussex Stakes, the Juddmonte International. But he'll be the one to tell us where to go and when or if he's ready for the extra distance."
Cecil was speaking at an occasion in London to promote the mixed meeting at Sandown that marks the end of the jumps season later this month. Another of the sport's icons, Kauto Star, will be on parade and he, too, is in bouncing form after being pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a tweaked muscle. "He's so well we've had to start cantering him to settle him,"his trainer, Paul Nicholls, said. "He'll enjoy his day out and then he'll be off on his summer holidays. We'll make a decision about his future in due course, but we won't be rushing into it."
Chris McGrath's Nap: Abi Scarlet (3.50 Southwell)
Returns to a course and distance over which she has proved herself.
Next best: Alba King (3.30 Sedgefield)
On a hat-trick at the track and yet may have enough in hand to cope with his ratings rise.
One to watch: Trade Commissioner (John Gosden), who finished with a flourish at Kempton on Saturday, should be kept on side once he has a handicap mark.
Where the money's going: Punters have latched on to Grand National challenger Killyglen, 14-1 from 20-1 with Paddy Power.