By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
Frankel’s maiden voyage over 1m 2f in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International is arguably his toughest test since his 2,000 Guineas demolition job at Newmarket in 2011.
Henry Cecil’s unbeaten colt faces eight rivals as he puts his unbeaten 12-run career on the line over 10f. Frankel has been in a comfort zone – not necessarily of his own making – since that six-length Guineas procession from Dubawi Gold in 2011
But will race number 13 be unlucky for Frankel and regular pilot Tom Queally as he calls on unproven reserves of stamina to match his awesome pace on the Knavesmire?
For a racehorse – any racehorse – to show such blistering speed there is always going to be a question of when their stamina will give out.
Usually it’s evident when lightning-fast 6f sprinters fail to see out true-run mile races as the petrol tank flashes empty near the end.
But Frankel is different. He is a freak. Not just because he wins races at the end by wide margins. But because he burns off his rivals so easily at the start.
Racehorses adhere to a certain style of racing to give them the maximum chance of winning – particularly at this Group One level. Some are able to lead from the front and maintain such a good gallop that they neutralise their sometimes faster rivals’ finishing speed.
Others conserve their energy for maximum effort in the final furlongs after some other unfortunate has done all the donkey work. And those in between try to make the most of whatever opportunity presents itself.
But any academic pre-race debate goes out the window when Frankel is around. That’s why he’s 8/15 to win by five or more lengths in Paddy Power’s online betting and 9-4 to win by up to and including four and a half lengths.
He has to be restrained at the start so as not to out-gallop his pacemaker and usually finishes his races as strongly as he started them.
He disrupts his rivals’ style of racing early doors and never gives them the chance to run their race. Everything is on his terms. He’s the guv’nor. He bosses them. And that’s why he’s unbeaten.
Take him on early and your legs, lungs and heart are stretched beyond breaking point after three furlongs. Try to maintain a steady pace and he’s being unsaddled in the winner’s enclosure before you cross the line.
But while the Frankel cheerleaders have grown ever louder, in truth this contest will go a long way to determining his legacy.
Beat a field of this calibre with proven Group One performer St Nicholas Abbey ridden by Joseph O’Brien and last year’s winner and stable-mate Twice Over – then Frankel’s place in history is assured.
Add in Farhh and Frankie Dettori, Planteur and Ryan Moore and the journey into the unknown over 1m 2f – and we have a proper race in prospect.
If he gets turned over he can drop back to a mile maybe safe in the knowledge that the 10f trip over-stretched him.
Frankel’s rivals are busy finalising plans as they want their own bit of racing history by becoming the first horse/jockey/trainer to lower his colours.
But as former World heavyweight champion Joe Louis once said: “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.”
And Frankel will hit them with every stride in an unforgiving 10f gallop at York on Wednesday.