Frankel stars on day of shining performances
Dettori lands four-timer including Poet's Voice in QEII but Cecil's colt puts on a show that will warm the winter of all who saw it
Sunday 26 September 2010
With respect to the top-class seniormilers who fought out the finish of the £250,000 feature here, and to the ubiquitous Frankie Dettori's217-1 four-timer on the course he has made his own, the most stunning performance of the day – and arguably of the season – came from one of the youth squad. In putting his Royal Lodge Stakes rivals to the sword by 10 lengths, the handsome two-year-old Frankel galloped to short-priced favouritism for both next year's 2,000 Guineas and Derby, and his imperious display had his trainer, Henry Cecil, trawling back through more than three decades of memories for a comparison.
The yardstick proved to be Wollow, the champion juvenile of 1975. "I don't think I've had a better two-year-old since him," he said, "and that's a long time to go back." When you consider that the young talent through Cecil's hands since include such as Reference Point, Diesis, Tenby, Be My Chief and Armiger, and that he is by no means given to hyperbole, he was paying Frankel a mighty compliment.
Cecil, the 10-times champion of his profession, is perfectly aware that brilliance as a two-year-old is no guarantee of three-year-old success, and shrugged off the bookmakers' reaction – 2-1 for the Guineas, 7-2 for the Derby. "A lot can happen between now and then," he said, "I don't believe in ante-post betting."
It will take a sensational victory by something else to shake Frankel from his pedestal, though, and the last running of the Group Two race at its traditional home – it will move to Newmarket next year – may yet prove to be an "I was there" moment. The son of Galileo took his unbeatensequence to three yesterday, andbarely broke sweat to do so.
His rider, Tom Queally, managed to settle him at the back against a steady early pace and then, when he asked for a gradual improvement in positionrounding the home turn, the response was explosive. "I just wanted a length or two at that stage," he said, "and instead I got five, he was away and gone. His scope and stride just takes him there, just effortless power."
It is said that a good horse rarely has a bad name, and in this one's case it is one of the best. It honours the great US trainer Robert Frankel, who died from cancer 10 months ago and whose 3,654 victories included more than 40 at the top level for hisequine namesake's owner-breeder,Khaled Abdullah.
Frankel is likely to run once more this year, in either the Dewhurst Stakes or Racing Post Trophy. "He's done nothing but get better over the last couple of months," added Cecil, "and is now ticking all the right boxes. I'd rather finish his season in the earlierrace, the Dewhurst, but if he tells us he needs more time after today, then he'll get it."
No one would begrudge the 67-year-old Cecil, who has revived his career after health problems, any future laurels. No less of a popular icon, particularly here, is Dettori. Though he could not match his magnificent seven of 14 years ago he produced a fantastic four, which included the two Group One contests on the card.
He produced Poet's Voice, in Godolphin's colours, to beat Rip Van Winkleby a nose in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and persuaded his stablemate White Moonstone to repel another from Ballydoyle, Together, by a neck in the Fillies Mile. His haul, which took him past his century for the season, was completed by handicapper Redford, who followed up last week's Ayr Gold Cup victory, and Rainfall.
Poet's Voice's success leaves the pecking order in the mile division still wide open; the progressive Dubawi colt produced his best effort to date to beat last year's winner, with the hot favourite, Makfi, back in fifth place. Battle between the principals may be rejoined in the Breeders' Cup Mile in Kentucky in November.
It was Dettori's fifth success in the QEII, 20 years after his first on Markofdistinction, when he also doubled up in the fillies' feature on Shamshir, back in his days withLuca Cumani.
"I had to bite the bullet today and drop my horse out last to get him to switch off," he said. "I had to come wide to challenge and when I looked up I saw Johnny [Murtagh, on Rip Van Winkle] had five lengths on me.
"But he was treading water at the furlong mark, and I had a turn of foot left to get there and mine had his head down as they passed the post. Even 20 years on, it's still a thrill."
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