NEWBURY, ENGLAND// Frankel confirmed his wellbeing with his most emphatic defeat of Excelebration by winning the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes yesterday.
The world's highest-rated thoroughbred had beaten Excelebration by a combination of 10 lengths before the fourth encounter between the two colts but drew clear by five lengths under Tom Queally to record his tenth consecutive victory.
It was Frankel's first race of the season, having crowned his three-year-old campaign in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.
"It is a great relief he is back in a race and it was amazing to be on board," Queally said. "He's grown up a lot and if you look at him now he is the real deal."
Frankel had looked bigger physically on his first appearance in public at Newmarket this month when he galloped along the Rowley Mile on 2000 Guineas day after he had been past fit to race following the injury that threatened to derail his career.
He had tightened up since then, however, and looked like a wild panther in the pre-parade ring as he stalked Bullet Train, his three-parts brother.
And for a full six furlongs of the mile contest Frankel sat behind Bullet Train, who under Ian Mongan forced a steady pace.
As soon as Bullet Train reached two furlongs from home Queally angled out his mount and within a matter of strides the pair had hit the front. Frankel's four white socks became a blur and the race was over moments later in front of a huge crowd of people, who were waving flags sporting owner Prince Khalid Abdullah's famous green, pink and white colours.
"Bullet Train simply couldn't go quick enough," Queally added.
It was not the strongest Group 1 contest, however. Excelebration was the only other horse in the field that could boast a victory at the highest level and Strong Suit, the triple Group 2 winner, was withdrawn on account of the rain-softened going on the morning of the race.
Yet Frankel has now proved that he has trained on from three to four years of age and Sir Henry Cecil, his trainer, was confident that he would improve again for the outing.
"Looking at his races from a two year old to a three year old I would be absolutely certain he will come on from that," he said. "He couldn't do more than what he did today, could he? What are we trying to prove?"
Frankel is entered in both the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile and the Prince Of Wales's Stakes over two furlongs further next month at Royal Ascot. Although the racing public are beginning to clamour for Cecil to test his charge fully, the trainer intimated that Frankel would be kept to a mile.
"He will probably tackle further as the season goes on," he added. "As long as he does it sometime is what counts. It would be more likely he went for the Queen Anne.
"He's much stronger this year and he needed the race."
Later on the card the HH Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarek Ladies World Championship for Arabians was won by Muhal, who was ridden by Veronika Aske. The dashing grey, owned by the Royal Cavalry of Oman, held off the sustained challenge of Andaleeb, ridden by Jane Foley.
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