Owner Prince Khalid Abdulla confirmed that Frankel had run his last race after the greatest horse of modern times made it 14 wins from as many starts in the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
The four-year-old appeared not to relish the testing underfoot conditions but still held off last year’s winner Cirrus Des Aigles to score by a length and three-quarters.
“That is the end of it and he will retire to stud now. Today was important because it was his last race,” said Abdulla. “I knew he was going to win beforehand and I think he would have been further in front of the other horses if it hadn’t been for the ground.”
Abdulla’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, added “Frankel is the greatest and he has brought a whole new generation of people and a wider audience to the sport. He’s the ultimate equine athlete. He’s been important because he has brought the sport from the back pages of the papers to the front pages. Hopefully a new generation of interest he has spawned will be a fantastic legacy
“This was a career-defining performance. He was slowly away but the great thing is that he is so relaxed and he got into a rhythm again. He’s unhustled and relaxed and he had a trouble-free run into the straight. I was confident that he’d put the race to bed and that’s what he did.
“I was worried last night when everybody kept ringing me to tell me how much rain there had been at Ascot but Henry was insistent that he would run. When I walked the track this morning I was more than happy. If you watched the race before (won by Excelebration, who had finished behind Frankel five times) it tells you what kind of class he is. Then to beat Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel at their optimum distance was a star performance.
“Prince Khalid has said that he has run his last race and I think that’s the correct decision in every way. He was a champion at two, three and four and if you haven’t made your mind up about him now then you never will.
“Henry’s re-emergence as a trainer is not just one of the greatest stories in sport but one of the all-time great stories generally. He’s has come back from the Conference to the Champions’ League and Henry is a master of his profession. He is very determined and his handling of this horse is masterly. He was determined to do the right thing by the horse and taught him to settle, which you saw today.
“We must also mention Thomas P Queally. They have grown into one of the great sporting partnerships.”
Frankel is set to stand as a stallion at Prince Khalid’s Banstead Manor Stud in Cheveley, near Newmarket, and Grimthorpe added: “I won’t miss him because he’ll be 200 yards from my office! He’ll let down first back at Warren Place Stables and come to Banstead Manor when he’s ready. He’s been on high octane fuel so it’s a gradual letting-down process and when everyone is happy he’ll come to the stud.
“Interest in him as a stallion has been worldwide and I mean from every part of the world. The next process is to decide on a stud fee which Prince Khalid and (the stud’s general manager) Philip Mitchell will do. People wanting to breed to the horse will send their mares’ CVs in and Prince Khalid will send his best mares that suit. They will also decide how many outside mares will go to him. It would be good to get a good breadth of mares in terms of size, scope and pedigree and that is an ongoing process.”
FRANKEL’S CONSISTENCY MARK OF A GREAT, SAYS HANDICAPPER
Frankel did not annihilate his rivals in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, but his performance was that of a horse who consistently runs to a very high mark.
That was the overriding element that should be taken from today’s race, said senior BHA handicapper Phil Smith when reflecting on the Group One contest. He could not say Frankel’s final rating will be the highest of all time – the figure will be decided at a conference later this year – but in terms of stellar performances Smith said he had never known a horse who could achieve top-class marks every time he ran.
Smith said: “He’s won nine Group One races, is the first horse to produce two 140 performances – in the Queen Anne Stakes and Juddmonte International at two different distances – and his consistency is the element that handicappers love to see.
“He has been metronomic, giving performance of 130-plus over and over again. The conditions were not helpful today but he has put up another 130-plus effort. The ground concerned us all, and I think back to great horses of yesteryear, Brigadier Gerard being the obvious one, who were all out to win on this type of ground against significantly inferior horses. Frankel certainly wasn’t running against significantly inferior horses today – they were some of the best he has faced and yet he still went past them looking like a champion.
“It will be a very easy contest to rate, compared to some of his races because they have finished in the order we hoped they would. Frankel was on 140, Cirrus Des Aigles on 130, Nathaniel on 126 and so on. That helps us – the distance between the second and third was two and a half lengths, and we would call that 4lb over this distance so you would have to think they have run to their maximum.
“Then you have to assess the one and three-quarter lengths by which Frankel beat Cirrus Des Aigles – I think he was value for a little more than that, although he wasn’t as extravagant as in some of his other wins. I believe there was a little in the tank and that he was value for two and a half lengths and possibly more, which makes Frankel’s run today a 134-plus performance.
“We just don’t get that level so consistently. Five years ago, in 2007, there was not a single 130-plus performance in the world, yet this horse does it time and again. Last year there were two horses in the world rated 130-plus, namely Frankel and Black Caviar, and Frankel has done it again this year. I’ve never seen a horse who is so consistent. He never throws in a below-par performance.
“His final rating is not purely a BHA decision, but an international handicappers’ decision, which will be discussed at the end of the year in Hong Kong among 20 handicappers. After today his 140-rating won’t change, however it could go up, it could conceivably go down at that conference, although that is unlikely.”
Asked if Excelebration’s win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes could have a bearing on Frankel’s mark, Smith’s colleague, Dominic Gardiner-Hill said Excelebration did not run to his true mark in the Queen Anne Stakes when trounced by Frankel. Excelebration was rated 125 before today’s victory, but Gardiner-Hill said he could nudge 130 after today’s race is assessed.
Frankel’s top-speed 37.5mph
Statistics provided by TurfTRax show Frankel’s top speed in the QIPCO Champion Stakes was 37.5mph and the fastest single furlong he ran was from the 3f to 2f marker – he covered that distance in 12 seconds dead.
Tom Queally continued his wonderful association with Frankel when steering the world’s best racehorse to his 14th and final victory in the Group One QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot this afternoon.
Although the Frankel conceded a couple of lengths at the start, Queally rode the son of Galileo with the confidence we have come to expect from the 28-year-old, producing him for an easy length and three-quarter success over Cirrus Des Aigles.
Queally said: “I’m really proud of Frankel and we have been on an amazing journey. He was slowly away at York and he was a little bit slower today but I have so much belief in the horse and I suppose that we have pushed that to the limit in the past but he is amazing. We lost a length at the start but a length is nothing to him.
“It’s fair to say that he is better on better ground but the 4×4 kicked in and he is everything that you could imagine in a horse. He didn’t really enjoy the ground – he didn’t bounce of it like he can do – but that shows you what sort of horse we are dealing with. Under the circumstances I would say it’s up there with his best performances.
“Frankel is the biggest chapter in my life and it’s great that it has happened. Sir Henry (Cecil) has had some great jockeys and for me to be there at that time when the horse of a lifetime comes along is just amazing.
“I can think of harder things than being Frankel’s jockey on the grand scale of things. There is pressure but there is pressure in all walks of life and I would gladly take it all on board – the chances of me being the guy on board or even the chances of a horse like him coming along.
“I am by no means at all a showman but it unusual for a Flat crowd to get behind a horse – you come in and say to yourself “wow”. That sums the horse up in every way.
“Connections had to make the call whether to run and it was the right one. I am just proud to be associated with him – I am fortunate, privileged. My family are here and it’s nice for them too. Everyone at Warren Place is like a big family that pulls together and everyone gets a kick out of it.
“I don’t get too nervous because I am so close to it and have control over what’s going on, but I can imagine what some of the other people were feeling. It’s a big thing and you can see how much it means to people.”
“I could stand here and talk to all night about what he means to me and I am very proud to be associated with him. I went down an extra 100y yards in front of the stands to let the crowd soak it all in and so I could have another 20 seconds on his back.”
NO DISGRACE FOR CIRRUS
After running the great Frankel close, in what has proved to be his final race, the Group One QIPCO Champion Stakes, Cirrus Des Aigles’ trainer, Corine Barande-Barbe, said: “I heard that the British public were worried that we could beat him (Frankel) – I thought maybe that we could win but Frankel is the best. There is no disgrace in being beaten by Frankel.”
Cirrus des Aigles, who won this race last year, will continue his racing career in 2013, with the trainer adding: “He (Cirrus Des Aigles)will decide when we run again – we will continue with our travelling.”
Olivier Peslier, who rode the one-and-three-quarter length second, added:” He went very well with two furlongs to go I thought we have a chance we have to make him (Frankel) fight. Cirrus Des Aigles fought very well.”
John Gosden, trainer of the third home Nathaniel, reflected: “I am thrilled with the result. I think that is what we all wanted. I love the way Frankel came in but he had to race in the end – in the last half furlong he was having a race. What a great horse.”
On his own charge the trainer said: “Nathaniel has done everything, a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, fast groundsoft ground. He’s run a great race and has had a great season. He’s just always run great races. He’s a very genuine, proper racehorse. He is now off to stud at Newsells Park.”
There was a sell-out attendance of 32,348 at Ascot today, compared to 26,749 last year.
Charles Barnett, Ascot’s Chief Executive, commented: “It’s great to get a sellout crowd in only the second year of QIPCO British Champions Day. It was fantastic to see Frankel confirm himself the best horse in the world at any trip and on any ground.
“It has been a tremendous year for British racing and we have seen champions like Frankel and Black Caviar here this year and thanks to the connections of those horses in particular for their support through the year.”
BOOKMAKERS APPRECIATE FRANKEL’S EFFORTS
Frankel, who ended his career today with his 14th consecutive victory in the QIPCO Champion Stakes today at odds of 2/11, has been sent off favourite every time he has been to the racecourse.
The only time he was sent off odds against was when he beat Nathaniel on his debut at odds of 7/4 at Newmarket in August 2010, but bookmakers have been surprisingly thankful for his resounding contribution to racing.
Paddy Power said: “Frankel has cost us about £5 million over the course of his career which averages out at around £360,000 per run.
“But it’s been money very well spent as he has increased the profile of the Sport of Kings immeasurably and hopefully attracted many new fans to our amazing game.”
David Williams of Ladbrokes said: “We roared him home with all the punters. It scarcely matters a jot that he’s emptied our satchels once again.
“He’s the best thing we’ve had to promote our sport to a whole new audience and we’re so grateful for that. Frankel will be remembered fondly by the bookies.”