Frankel factor continues to fascinate
Since the great horse first arrived at Cheveley’s Banstead Manor Stud the talk has been of nothing else but whether his progeny will inherit just enough of their father’s ability to see them become Classic winners.
This weekend will see Frankel have his first Classic runners and in Eminent in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, and Fair Eva and Queen Kindly in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, he has three representatives that have every chance of landing that first Classic win.
Incredibly it’s been just a few months short of five years since Frankel last graced a racecourse, rounding off a spectacular racing career by winning the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot.
With an unbeaten record that included 10 Group 1 wins Frankel was little short of perfection on four legs.
His devastating speed meant he could have been a champion sprinter had he been raced at shorter distances and his ability and constitution had many believe that he could have won the Derby or the Arc.
Few who saw him annihilate the field in the 2011 QIPCO 2000 Guineas, the last time he was to race on his home track, will ever forget the performance which, despite all that came after, was enough to earn Frankel his place in Turf legend.
Those that were there on that glorious afternoon will never tire of telling all those who weren’t just what they missed.
A huge part of the Frankel story was his late great trainer Sir Henry Cecil, who just eight months after his colt’s 14th and final victory succumbed to the cancer that had shadowed him throughout his colt’s illustrious career.
The relationship between the genius trainer and the horse that was to provide him with a lasting place in the sun was the stuff of legend and is a big part of why interest in Frankel is still as keen today as it has ever been.
Unlike the majority of great thoroughbreds that are largely forgotten by the public as they disappear off for lucrative careers at stud, since Frankel took up stud duties his fame has grown and grown.
He has met royalty, pop superstars and brought a special kind of magic into the lives of children and young people battling life-threatening illnesses.
He has also appeared on postage stamps, had model horses and bronze statues fashioned in his image, and had a bar named after him at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Frankel’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah is in no doubt as to the weight of expectation carried by his son and daughters this weekend.
“The beauty of Frankel is that the expectation is so enormous that everyone expects something spectacular every time one of his progeny sets foot on a racecourse,” he said.
“Breeders and the public both expect him to deliver at the highest level.”
And he is pleased with how Frankel has stamped his stock. “What Frankel gives them is that good stride – which was pretty devastating in his case – and a will to win.
“In the Craven Stakes, Eminent really wanted to get on and do it, which was very reminiscent of his father. Frankel has started off exceptionally well as a stallion, there is no question about it, it’s tremendously exciting.”
With a stud fee of £125,000, Frankel has been courting the very best mares owned by the world’s leading breeders and those not lucky enough to be able to breed from him have sought to snap up his progeny at bloodstock sales.
At Tattersalls’ premier yearling sale last October nine yearlings sired by Frankel realised an eye-popping 7,075,000 guineas.
They included a colt out of 1,000 Guineas winner Attraction – sold for 1.6 million guineas to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
If he does manage to sire a Classic winner this year, come the autumn his yearling prices could go even higher.
He already has some very live chances in the Derby next month including John Gosden’s Cracksman who carries the same colours as Golden Horn, winner of the 2015 renewal of the Epsom Classic.
The year before he died, Sir Henry Cecil nominated East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH)as beneficiary for the sale of Frankel merchandise and, in addition, Banstead Manor Stud has raised thousands of pounds for the charity through tours and donations.
Such was Frankel’s popularity that he was named a charity ambassador for EACH, joining Frankie Dettori in a role which has also been filled by singer Ed Sheeran and celebrity chef Delia Smith.
“When a horse goes to stud, the interest in him tends to diminish but, unusually, in Frankel’s case if anything it has grown even further,” said Teddy Grimthorpe.
“All his charity days are booked up as people just want to see him and have their photo taken with him.”
That, as they say, is the Frankel Factor.