Chris McGrath: Frankel brings hope of redemption but Strong Suit may trump Cecil ace

Inside Track

It has, to put it mildly, been a trying week for the British Turf.

Last Saturday, its most famous race produced such troubling images that few have since managed to temper revulsion with anything resembling balance or informed insight. In public relations terms, after all, to distinguish between undeniable stain and unwarranted smear is a fairly thankless task.

Meanwhile the scandalised sensibilities of the world beyond somehow remain indifferent to the plight of two young men lying unconscious in hospital beds. Each of them shares the hazards embraced daily by Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh – but not their celebrity. Sure enough, nobody seems especially curious about the moral perspectives of a professional community in agonised vigil for Peter Toole and Richard Hawkins, injured in races at Aintree and Taunton respectively.

Fresh opprobrium may yet be imminent. Whether or not they condense into anything substantial, the racecourse has been abuzz in recent days with rumours about new allegations of race-fixing. And it is not as if the sport's internal agenda, away from all these lurid horrors, is especially comforting. The ongoing stand-off over prize-money, between racecourses and horsemen, has produced a first walkover in four years at Leicester today. The only "runner" is saddled by Harry Dunlop, who was fully complicit with the boycott and simply agreed that the racecourse should not be able to brush the race under the carpet, along with such prize-money as had been put up.

With all this in mind, there is something temptingly messianic about Frankel. Just when we need one most, along comes a wonder horse. What is more, he is obeying an apparent destiny as the colt to complete one of the most heart-warming tales of recent years – the return to the big time, against all odds, of Henry Cecil.

For those prepared to accept their cue from the present, pervasive morbidity, however, it might well prove worth taking on Frankel at very short odds in the Totesport Greenham Stakes at Newbury today. Already as low as 4-6 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, he certainly produced a couple of eye-watering displays at two, to compound his home reputation as Cecil's best prospect for many years. But it is a little unnerving that connections feel obliged to guarantee the pace with an animal as promising as Picture Editor, who might feasibly have started in an Investec Derby trial instead of serving as Frankel's valet. The favourite did betray a perilously energetic streak in his final start last year, and such horses are always liable to be especially eager when fresh.

And the thing is that this will not just be a routine session on the punchbag. In Strong Suit, he meets a colt of genuine elite ability, one who this morning looks excellent value himself for the Guineas at 20-1. Always rated the most talented juvenile in his prolific stable last season, Strong Suit thrashed good horses on his debut and then produced a breathtaking turn of foot to get out of trouble in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Repeatedly hampered that day, he was promptly quoted as short as 7-1 for the Guineas, only to be beaten in both subsequent starts. In each case, however, he can be readily pardoned. He saw too much daylight when mugged close home at the Curragh, and then coasted through the race before floundering off the bridle in deep ground at Newmarket.

Fast ground and a fast pace over the extra furlong here should enable Richard Hughes to stalk Frankel and pounce as and when Tom Queally, in a normal race, might otherwise ask his mount to dig deep. Frankel will surely be given a relatively conservative ride, with the Guineas just a fortnight away, and as such may find himself stuck, so to speak, between a rock and a hard race. As Cecil himself says: "The most important thing for him is just to have a sensible race. Whatever he does, I think he will come on a lot, as he has been limited with the firm ground and only working on the all-weather."

Cecil is said to have encouraging depth among his three-year-olds, and the fact that one putative Derby prospect was turned over at Newmarket during the week will not discourage the hype about World Domination when he makes his debut later on the card. His work has apparently been consistent with his christening and genes. His dam is Reams Of Verse, but she is not the only Oaks winner with a son making his debut on the card. Voodoo Prince, by Kingmambo out of Ouija Board, is preceded to the last race by a great deal of excitement at the in-form stable of Ed Dunlop.

Hope springs eternal on the racecourse, thank goodness, whatever the challenges to be endured. Anyone who saw Magic City in the opener at Newbury yesterday had no doubt that they had just seen the fastest juvenile of the season to date, and there was a series of promising three-year-olds on show, too.

For those who still have a stomach for marathon steeplechases, meanwhile, the Coral Scottish National sets a puzzle at Ayr today, with so many horses squeezed out of the handicap. Chicago Grey is no mere slogger and looks on a fair mark, so long as a tough season has not caught up with him – the way it already has, it must be said, for many of us on the sidelines. Jump racing, just now, would not be the sport's strongest suit.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Mandurah (2.30 Ripon)

Very well handicapped on his best and, having returned to David Nicholls, shaped nicely over a sixth furlong at Thirsk last week, and will last longer restored to the minimum trip.

Next Best

Montparnasse (3.00 Ripon)

Good progress through his first campaign, and this son of Montjeu looks the sort to improve for castration since leaving Manton to join the in-form Kevin Ryan.

One To Watch

Tell Dad (Richard Hannon) is guaranteed to win good races judged on his debut at Newmarket on Wednesday, only just worried out of it by an experienced rival.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape