x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Time for Farhh to redeem himself

Godolphin horse will face Frankel at the Sussex Stakes – for the first time since 2010, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

The last time Farhh was paired with Frankel, in 2010, he got worked up in the stalls and was withdrawn before the race. David Davies / PA
The last time Farhh was paired with Frankel, in 2010, he got worked up in the stalls and was withdrawn before the race. David Davies / PA

GOODWOOD, England // It is almost two years since Farhh and Frankel lined up in the stalls together at Doncaster but tomorrow's Sussex Stakes provides the stage for their first competitive meeting on a racecourse.

In September 2010 Farhh entered the stalls to contest a conditions event against Frankel and two other rivals. The Godolphin representative got so worked up that he reared up in his gate and was severely injured.

In contrast, Frankel shot out of the stalls to record a 13-length victory and embarked on a career trajectory that now sees him rated as the world's best horse.

For Saeed bin Suroor's charge, however, the mishap resulted in a spell on the sidelines, which confined him to just one race in his three-year-old season.

"I remembered on that occasion, as the gates opened, absolutely spitting blood because he wasn't able to run against Frankel," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said. "But, at the end of the race, I was thinking maybe we dodged a bullet there because Frankel was phenomenally brilliant that day, even though it was a three-runner race."

Another small field awaits the pair. Frankel will be joined by Bullet Train, his half-brother and regular pacemaker, while Gabrial, fifth in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, is the only other challenger. Such is the gulf in class between the runners that Frankel, who is defending his title having beaten Canford Cliffs and two other rivals last season, is the sole Group 1 winner in the mile contest.

Farhh has performed creditably at the highest level in two runs this season behind So You Think and Nathaniel but the fact remains that according to the official handicapper there is 18lbs between the two protagonists.

"It is only this year that we are beginning to get into some sort of rhythm with him," Crisford said.

"The Goodwood track is a big question mark for him but the timing of the race suits us a lot more than waiting for another couple of weeks for Deauville.

"Maybe we will be able to get a five-length start from Frankel or even a 10-length start. If we could organise this, we would have a great chance."

It did not take long for a UAE-owned horse to enter the winners' enclosure here yesterday when Mark Johnston took the opening handicap with the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed-owned Landaman.

Johnston believed the four-year-old gelding needed firm ground to perform at his best but on rain-softened going Landaman galloped clear to win by two and a half lengths.

He could make a reappearance here later in the week.

Despite the victory, Johnston's yard continues to be ravaged by equine coughing and the Yorkshire trainer will not run Parley and Mojave Desert tomorrow.

Godolphin almost followed up in the next race when Encke was denied by a nose in the Gordon Stakes, a traditional pointer to the St Leger at Doncaster.

Noble Mission – Frankel's full brother – took the Group 3 contest and the two horses could meet once again in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York later this month.

"We were delighted with that run, Crisford said.

"He ran really well and stepping up to a mile and a half has helped him. He is a little short on experience but that will come in time."

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