x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cecil worrying about Frankel

Henry Cecil is worried his horse, Frankel, has not had enough work with the 2,000 Guineas coming up on April 30.

Henry Cecil, who this week saw his highly-rated Midsummer Sun put in the shade by Godolphin's first British winner of the season, has warned that another of his fancied runners could be short of work ahead of his seasonal bow at Newbury tomorrow.

Frankel became the highest-rated juvenile of the 21st century alongside Dream Ahead last season when capping an unbeaten campaign by handsomely winning the showdown with Godolphin's Saamidd in the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

Although the colt, owned by Saudi Arabia's Prince Khalid Abdullah, was pleasing Cecil in his work at home, for the first time in two decades the 10-time British champion handler, who trains 14 horses for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, has been unable to get his string on to grass gallops due to the unseasonal weather in England.

"It's been so dry and we haven't been able to get on the grass yet, and they might be a bit short," said Cecil. "Frankel is well on course for Newbury but he might have the same problem as the rest of them."

Cecil's fears come despite Frankel's smooth progress throughout the winter which has seen the Galileo colt become the widely regarded favourite for the English 2,000 Guineas on April 30.

"Last year he was immature in a lot of ways and he was very free in his work," Cecil said. "He's grown and lengthened. Mentally, he's more settled and relaxed, and he's more mature now. In time I can see him getting a mile-and-quarter, but whether he'll get a mile-and-a-half he'll tell us."

Five of the past six winners of the first British Classic of the season have skipped a prep race and have gone straight to Newmarket, but even if Frankel is behind in his work, Cecil believes that a racecourse outing is essential preparation for the one-mile contest.

"I never trust myself to run them in the first Classic without a race. A race brings them on and gives them something to think about. I'm still educating him, and going away for the night to Newbury and the adrenaline of a racecourse will do him a lot of good."

Five rivals line up against Frankel in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes.

Richard Hannon's Strong Suit looks the biggest danger, especially as last season's champion trainer has won four of the past nine runnings of the feature.