Gun European colt Frankel is closing in on glamour Australian mare Black Caviar’s stunning succession of 13 wins, the three-year-old having secured his seventh straight turf triumph on Tuesday night.
Sitting at the top of the World Thoroughbred Rankings alongside our superlative sprinter Black Caviar, well-bred Galileo colt Frankel has now won his opening seven races consecutively after a brave effort in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot.
Frankel, prepared by Henry Cecil at Newmarket in the UK, was coming off a blistering six length victory in the Group 1 2000 Guineas Stakes (1609m) before their latest win.
The boom youngster is now a triple Group 1 winner in Europe.
In the St James’s Palace Stakes, Frankel started the raging 3/10 favourite and jockey Tom Queally allowed the champion sit just off the pace set by their stablemate Rerouted before chasing down the leader on the straight to lead by six lengths.
Frankel tired over the final stages, but held on in a gallant display to beat home the Aidan O’Brien-trained Zoffany by three-quarters of a length.
It was an eye-catching finish from runner-up Zoffany, stablemate to dual Cox Plate winner So You Think, as the 20/1 outsider came from well back in the field to storm into second place ahead of Excelebration who finished off the trifecta after making up lots of ground following an awkward jump.
Although not as emphatic as many of Frankel’s other wins, the St James’s Palace Stakes showed the horse’s brilliant turn of foot and awesome ability to win when others would have fallen away.
“That was a bit nerve-wracking and it didn’t go to plane,” Cecil admitted.
“He is growing up but it just went a little bit wrong today.
“He looked as if he was going to win a big more easily and I think that he thought that he had just done enough.”
Cecil was still very happy with Frankel’s run and their ability to settle.
“He settled really well – very, very well,” he said.
“The pacemaker went off quite fast and he was very, very settled and he (Tom Queally) had to ask him to take it up and he said when he was in front he thought he’d done enough.
“Tom (Queally) said he was very settled and we can ride him properly now.
“In the Royal Lodge (September, 2010) the further he went the better he was, but he’s getting older and wiser now and he thought he’d done enough and was getting a bit bored.”
Queally has been aboard Frankel for all seven of their career starts to date and has built up a nice association with one of the world’s best.
“He jumped a little bit slow and he settled better than before,” Queally said mirroring Cecil’s sentiments of the run.
“He was on his own for a long way and he was getting a bit fed up in the front.
“He’s done it so easy. He’s growing up all the time.
“People think he just jumps and runs but he’s more versatile than that.
“We have got options regarding tactics and he is still the one to beat at the moment.
“He’s getting more professional with every run and he’s starting to know he’s good now.”
Cecil and connections must now decide whether to keep Frankel running over the mile or test them over a greater distance.
Next start options for the progressive galloper include the Group 1 Sussex Stakes (1609m) at Glorious Goodwood or the Group 1 Juddmonte International, where Frankel would be stepping up to 2092 metres for the first time, at York in August.
“I think Frankel will stay further although obviously I’m not certain,” Cecil said.
Weighing in on the decision is the fact Frankel’s owner Khalid Abdulla sponsors the Juddmonte and could be keen to break his maiden in the race with victory at the York feature as yet eluding them.