Frankel groomed for new rituals of the mating game
Thursday 22 November 2012
His many fans – and they include some from a perhaps surprising quarter – will no doubt be delighted to hear that Frankel has made the transfer from his first career to the first phase his second with the minimum of fuss. The four-year-old colt, judged by most the best racehorse of recent times and by some of any, has settled into his new quarters at his owner Khaled Abdullah's Banstead Manor Stud with all the insouciant aplomb that has marked his progress thus far.
"He has the most wonderful outlook on life," said Philip Mitchell, general manager of the opulent equine nursery on the outskirts of Newmarket. "He has an intelligent and curious interest in what is going on in his new environment. And he is kind with it, one of those who wants only to please."
Frankel held court yesterday to the media, parading with impeccable manners alongside some of Banstead Manor's already proven stallions, including the top-class pair Dansili and Oasis Dream. He will not hold court to the opposite sex, though, for at least a couple of months. The thoroughbred breeding season does not officially start until mid-February, and the rookie will not start learning his new job until much nearer that time.
There are no certainties in any department with a new stallion, but Frankel has a great deal going for him, not least the fact that his own sire Galileo is the best in the world, and that he will have the pick of the world's best mares. Even at his fee of £125,000 – a European record for a first-time stallion – he is hugely oversubscribed.
His first harem will be 130-strong, including perhaps 30 of Abdullah's own top broodmares. Of the outsiders who will bring their dowry, celebrities such as Danedream, Zagora and Vodka are already in the queue. "I've never before been associated with a horse who has sparked global interest on such a scale," said Mitchell. "We have more than 250 applications to sift through, including from the States, Japan and Australia. We will be spoilt for choice, and there will be many factors to consider before his first book is finalised."
Frankel has won every award going this year, and yesterday he posed with one from the readers of Zoo, who eschewed their usual footy route to vote the horse, his trainer Sir Henry Cecil and his staff their Team Of The Year.
Though racing can be glamorous and romantic, the bloodstock industry is thoroughly pragmatic. Before Frankel can be introduced to any of his potential mates, there are matters such as his own capability and technique as a performer in the breeding shed and viability as a progenitor to be confirmed. He will also start adjusting to different regimes of diet and exercise – walking seven miles a day – to encourage muscular development suitable for his forthcoming work.
"We're not too worried about his ability; he seems to be all man," said Mitchell, "but he'll have to keep fit as covering 100-plus mares in a season can be bad for the heart.
"He was top of the tree as a racehorse, but here now he's just one of the boys, starting from scratch. It's going to be a whole new world for him." Or, as the lads' magazine subscribers might have it, a whole new ball game.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Super Duty (1.55 Haydock) Well-regarded in his powerful yard and made a highly satisfactory debut over fences over a distance judged far short of his optimum. The sound technique he showed will serve him well in this more demanding company, and the step up in trip will suit.
Loch Ba (3.15 Ascot) His wide-margin success on his seasonal debut under new trainership has resulted in a hefty hike up the ratings, and although clearly well handicapped off his old mark, may be capable of defying the new.
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