Only the mud can mar farewell parade for Frankel, champion of champions - Racing - Sport - The Independent

Only the mud can mar farewell parade for Frankel, champion of champions

Cecil's unbeaten colt can shine one last time on a day for celebration – and Excelebration

It will probably turn into another procession, and that would certainly lend a suitably ceremonial quality to what is likely to prove the last piece of evidence submitted in favour of Frankel's promotion among the greatest of his breed. For celebration of his bewitching talent, and admiration for the mastery and fortitude of his trainer, should not require the suspension of every critical faculty on Qipco Champions' Day.

By declining the opportunity to explore his full capacity – through a career confined entirely to home soil, and largely to the same distance and opposition – his connections have made it difficult to endorse the theory, recycled so widely, that Frankel is a colt without precedent. In fairness, however, their options have been limited by fidelity to an innovation that retains grievous flaws, despite all the shrill cheerleading on its behalf. Unlike the preposterous Champions Series, to which it ostensibly provides a climax, there is clear merit in the showcase card inaugurated at Ascot last year. But it is scheduled far too late in the calendar.

For one thing, it is insular, arrogant and obtuse to stage the meeting in direct competition with those overseas targets that would tell us something new about champions who have already established their local superiority. (It falls just 13 days after the Arc, and 14 before the Breeders' Cup.) For another, the autumn rains that have today guaranteed horrible conditions for top-class horses confirm that last year's weather was a benign aberration. Combine the two, and both the big races in effect boil down to simply this question: can an odds-on favourite reiterate his status in bad ground?

To that extent, then, a frisson of uncertainty has in the end been contrived even from Frankel's relatively cautious tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes. Imagine if he did forfeit that immaculate record, purely because the surface proved inimical to his brilliance – which possibility, of course, was precisely why Sir Henry Cecil never entertained the risk of testing Frankel's murderous rhythm against America's best, over dirt, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Frankel (4.05) will almost certainly prove immune to the conditions. His physical fluidity, after all, owes as much to strength as grace. True, it is hardly a chance worth taking at microscopic odds, not least against Cirrus Des Aigles, a top-class rival in his own right, with a record of annihilating all-comers whenever given the chance to race through the mud.

In fact, anyone so emotionally sterile as to require the extra stimulation of a bet here should probably back Cirrus Des Aigles each-way. He has certainly been campaigned with a due adventure, flown all round the world to explore the princely abilities latent in his pauper's pedigree. Nathaniel could push Frankel, however, assuming he is back on song after being forced to sit out the Arc. Still the rival to get closest to Frankel, beaten just half a length on their debut in 2010, he can hardly finish as near this time but will enjoy the ground.

For Nathaniel to finish second in Frankel's first and final starts would certainly bring things full circle. And the sense that the whole day revolves around the champion is compounded by the fact that Excelebration is hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. This colt was for a long time the best measure of Frankel, having finished second to him four times, and third once. With his nemesis having finally stepped up in trip, he has confirmed himself best of the rest at a mile, and was last seen beating Cityscape and Elusive Kate – the next two in the betting today – at Deauville in August. If he copes with the ground, Excelebration (3.30) will duly reiterate his status; if not, it might yet be that Carlton House can bounce back in a race lacking the depth associated with its old place in the calendar.

The stayers' race does look strong, having drawn three Gold Cup winners. But it is hard to know which, if any, remains in top form – and conditions may enable the upgraded Ile De Re (1.45) to bridge the gap. Sirius Prospect is also interesting, promoted from handicaps in the sprint, but Society Rock (2.20) matches a fine course record with proven calibre. Great Heavens, meanwhile, has not had long to absorb a generous effort in the Arc, and Sapphire (2.55) will be at home in the going.

But the principal hope from these other races, among a sell-out crowd, is that the track does not get too cut up before Frankel ventures on to it. So let's suspend all the quibbles over ratings, and indignation on behalf of champions past. Let's just enjoy the colossus who rightly bestrides the whole occasion, with all its controversies. And let's hope he leaves us something to remember him by.

Chris McGrath's nap:

Giorgio's Dragon (9.20 Wolverhampton)

Next Best:

Smarty Socks (4.45 Ascot)

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
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

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Secondary Supply Teachers to work in Peterborough

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week