Frankel's rise owes more to talent than marketeers' romantic dream

Chris McGrath,Racing Correspondent
Monday 27 September 2010 00:00

Despite the present, witless tendency to treat them as characters in search of an author, men such as Frankie Dettori and Henry Cecil could never be adequately prefigured by a script. Marketing men always promise some kind of Holy Grail – for due consideration, of course – but overlook the paradox of every messianic tradition. A saviour is constantly sought, constantly imagined, but seldom arrives in the manner expected. And that will never be as true as when you depend on the random agency of horses.

Take the emergence of this coruscating animal, Frankel. The "narrative" could scarcely be richer, or more satisfying. And, in fairness, the sense of destiny sustaining his rise owes a good deal to the prescience of those who christened him. Anyone who witnessed his breathtaking performance at Ascot on Saturday can now corroborate Cecil's instinct that his career could become a suitable memento to the great Bobby Frankel. But our wonder, at the young colt's sheer ability, has emotional dimensions that take us to the margins of credulity and dignity.

Can you sensibly believe that Frankel, a mere thoroughbred, is separated from his contemporaries not just by talent, but by fate? How, moreover, can you decently address the ghastly coincidence that his owner's two principal trainers, either side of the Atlantic, were simultaneously attacked by the same, deadly disease?

Frankel, who won so many big races for Khaled Abdullah in the United States, died last November. Cecil, meanwhile, has matched private fortitude with a professional revival so complete that his many admirers must now be careful that their sentimental regard is not infected by condescension. The time has come, in other words, once again to view Warren Place as exactly where you should expect to find the hot favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and Derby. If you treat it as a miracle, after all, then so might those investing big money at the yearling sales this autumn.

Wherever romance stops or starts, it never owes much to choreography or contrivance. There are good, bad and indifferent aspects to the replacement, next year, of a meeting dominated on Saturday by these two great romantic leads of the British Turf, Cecil and Dettori. Essentially, however, the reach of any racing story will depend on its own, organic appeal.

As for the cognoscenti, they might well be asking themselves whether it can be a coincidence that the same track – its racing surface mistrusted by many pundits – should have hosted Frankel's runaway success so soon after a very similar display by Harbinger. The cold reality is that Frankel has yet to meet a top-class rival, but he coasted round the field on Saturday with such mechanical ease that he will surely be equal to stiffer tasks – starting, in all likelihood, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket next month.

Opposition there may include Saamidd, the Champagne Stakes winner, whose stable's belated return to the big time (on these shores, at any rate) was the cornerstone of Dettori's euphoric 217-1 four-timer on the 14th anniversary of his Magnificent Seven. In saddling both Group One winners on the card, Saeed Bin Suroor added an engrossing chapter to a saga which itself refutes the notion that horses will ever conform obediently to the predictions and projections of men. The Maktoums have not had their money's worth out of Godolphin in recent seasons, but anyone doubting the calibre of the stable's supervision must acknowledge that Bin Suroor has done a remarkable job in taming Poet's Voice. The former tearaway is now an authentic candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile, the demands of which should suit him ideally.

Godolphin will presumably be taking custody of Casamento, who comfortably landed the odds in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh yesterday. Having been beaten only in a photo when still green in the National Stakes, Casamento forged four lengths clear over the extra furlong this time. At €54,000 he must be one of the cheapest of Sheikh Mohammed's cavalry, and was duly banished to an untested stable in the old maroon-and-white silks. The way Mick Halford has seized his first chance should certainly discourage complacency among the Sheikh's established personnel. Halford confirmed Casamento "the best I've had by a long way", and he is now as short as 10-1 for the Guineas.

Remember that the Beresford was won last year by St Nicholas Abbey, who ended up every bit as short as Frankel in the Classic betting, but has not been seen since disappointing in the Guineas. Whatever the marketing men might tell you, then, we are still only in the prologue.

Turf Account

*Chris McGrath's Nap

Rock Anthem (4.40 Kempton)

Yard is thriving and this one made his own contribution when produced to lead late at Sandown last time, having travelled strongly, and clearly well treated off a mark just 1lb higher today.

Next best

Far View (3.20 Ffos Las)

Glimpses of ability in maidens and got stuck in traffic on handicap debut at Wolverhampton last time. Has raced keenly and drop in trip looks sure to suit.

One to watch

Sirvino (T D Barron) has come down the weights and a strong finish for second at Pontefract the other day suggested a stiffer test is all he needs to profit.

Where the money's going

The sponsors saw more money for Nationalism in the Totesport Cambridgeshire on Saturday, going 5-1 from 7-1, and also cut Fame And Glory to 4-1 from 5-1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe the following day.

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