Lockinge Stakes a chance for candidates to stake a claim. Cityscape and Farrh are the highest-rated milers in UK but new challengers are bounding in, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Horse racing: Frankel's shoes may be too big to fill at Newbury
The race to fill the black hole left by Frankel's retirement gets underway in earnest this afternoon as Newbury Racecourse stages the first open Group 1 contest in Britain and Ireland this season.
Frankel used the Lockinge Stakes 12 months ago to signal that he had transferred his outrageous ability over a mile to his four-year-old frame, but without the greatest thoroughbred in a generation Saturday's race lacks the any of his lustre.
Frankel's transferral to the breeding shed came at the same time that Excelebration, seen as his most likely rival in Europe, also stopped racing.
Wise Dan, the 2012 horse of the year in America, proved to the international racing fraternity he leads the mile division after he beat Cityscape, the 2012 Dubai Duty Free winner, in the Woodbine Mile in September.
Cityscape provided racegoers at Dubai World Cup night two seasons ago with a power-packed performance in the Dubai Duty Free.
Roger Charlton's charge, owned like Frankel by Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, put four lengths on the field at Meydan Racecourse but has not won since in five subsequent starts.
And Charlton fears that the brilliance displayed in Dubai may well have faded as Cityscape comes to terms with one final season at the top before likely retirement.
"It's probably unlikely that he'll ever reproduce his Duty Free run," Charlton said. "It is challenging training a seven year old, as some can get idle and lazy at home, and he's had his difficulties and issues along the way."
As the seven year old had to avoid Frankel due to sharing ownership, Cityscape never had to face the ignominy of defeat to the unbeaten colt, whereas Godolphin's Farhh was put in his place twice last year by a total of 13 lengths.
Farrh found Frankel's turn of foot too potent in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in August before Frankel proved he could extend his speed to ten furlongs in the Juddmonte International at York three weeks later.
Farhh remained in Newmarket over the winter rather than come to Dubai as trainer Saeed Bin Suroor felt there were no opportunities for the five year old.
Like Cityscape, he has had his problems and had a small chip in his ankle removed through surgery over the winter, but Bin Suroor is confident he will get a good tune out Farhh with Royal Ascot next month in sight over the horizon.
"He was second in four Group Ones, twice behind Frankel, so he's shown his class," the Godolphin trainer said. "He will need the race on Saturday but he's in good condition, he's happy and fresh and has the class so he should run well."
Cityscape and Farhh are the two highest-rated older milers in Britain but they face a stern challenge from the new kids on the block.
It has been well documented that last year's Classic division around the world were a modest bunch but in Declaration Of War and Beauty Parlour there are two candidates who have the potential to eclipse their older rivals.
Declaration Of War has been brought over to Britain by Aidan O'Brien with a reputation that makes many believe the four year old simply has to turn up to win.
Farhh and Cityscape may well have something to say about that.
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