GOODWOOD, ENGLAND // Frankel officially became the best miler in the world, but in the words of Sir Henry Cecil, his trainer, he may well be the best horse of all time.
The Sussex Stakes was billed as a “Duel on the Downs” on account of the Group 1 contest being staged high up in the rolling English countryside, but realistically Frankel made light work of Canford Cliffs, his chief rival for the 1,600m crown.
The crowd uncharacteristically clapped each contender out on to the track before the race, and around a minute after the gates had opened they began to cheer Frankel home, 600m from the finish.
The French raider Rajsaman was the first to crack, then Godolphin’s Rio De La Plata, but with Tom Queally still perched in his irons virtually motionless on Frankel, the crowd knew that there was to be only one winner.
Queally kicked for home and after Frankel had clocked over 40mph the Irishman had a devilish job to pull up his mount after they crossed the line five lengths clear of Canford Cliffs, who finished two-and-a-half lengths ahead of Rio De La Plata. It was the largest winning margin since Brigadier Gerard in 1971.
“I’m very lucky. He’s got a tremendous turn of foot and that can go on for three or four furlongs. When he quickens he kills them. He was impressive, wasn’t he?”, Cecil said.
“I don’t want to be facetious, and this isn’t because I handle him, but he is definitely the best horse that I have ever seen in my lifetime,” added the 68-year-old.
It was the sixth time Cecil had won the Sussex Stakes, and with a gallery of 36 Classic victories to choose from it brings sharply into focus where in the pecking order Frankel stands in the hall of fame of great British thoroughbreds.
Frankel may well have a little more to prove before matching the feats of Native Dancer, who with 21 out of 22 victories wowed the American public in the 1950s and went on to become one of the most influential sires of the modern age.
The southern hemisphere will always cling onto the distant memory of Phar Lap’s exploits during the 1930s, while even the connections of Sea The Stars, who was victorious in Group 1 races over distances ranging from 1,600m to 2,400m two years ago, may eye Cecil’s words with some suspicion.
All of those horses suffered defeat, however, and Frankel’s eighth consecutive success yesterday has teed up the possibility that he may continue to scale the heights of equine achievement as a four-year-old.
When asked whether the son of Galileo would stay in training next season, Saudi Arabia's Prince Khalid Abdullah, the owner, replied: “If he [Cecil] wants him, then yes.”
Prince Khalid was initially not to be drawn into where his charge would be seen next, but after a discussion with Cecil in private it emerged that Frankel is to now have a break before reappearing in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on the newly-created British Champions Day on October 15.
“He’s likely to have a break now so won’t go to the Juddmonte International,” added Cecil.