x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

'Versatile' Frankel has it in control at Royal Ascot

The brilliant colt recovers after his pacemaker went off too fast and adapts quickly to win the St James's Palace Stakes.

Frankel thought he had done enough but then had to pick himself up for a bit more till the finishing post.
Frankel thought he had done enough but then had to pick himself up for a bit more till the finishing post.

ASCOT, ENGLAND // Different tactics, same result. Frankel capped a wonderful few days for Sir Henry Cecil yesterday by winning the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes on the first day of the Royal Meeting.

Cecil had been knighted in Queen Elizabeth’s birthday honours list at the weekend, and Frankel’s success yesterday handed him his 73rd Royal Ascot success.

Frankel’s burgeoning reputation before yesterday’s contest was based largely on his six-length victory in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, where he set fractional times in line with some of the best five-furlong sprinters in England.



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This time, however, Cecil was keen to try something different and Frankel was buried by jockey Tom Queally behind the Japanese challenger Grand Prix Boss while Rerouted, owned like Frankel by Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, set am impossible pace in front.


As the field came around Swinley Bottom,. The bend at the top of the racecourse, Queally made his move and shunted Frankel forward to emerge in the straight at the head of the pack.

It was the moment when Frankel was meant to gallop into the history books, but the scintillating turn of foot that characterised his previous six career victories simply wasn’t there.

The rest of the jockey’s could sense the weakness, and Ryan Moor galvanised Zoffany to chase only to go down by three-quarters of a length. Excelebration was third, ahead of Godolphin’s Neebras and Khalifa Dasmal’s Dream Ahead in fifth.

“That was nerve-wracking wasn’t it?,” said Cecil. “A furlong and a half from home I was very concerned as he looked like he was going to sleep. He’s getting a bit lazy.”

As plans go, the experiment to educate Frankel to settle under race conditions can be deemed a success, but whether it is shows him in his best light is still open to debate. That said, Queally was adamant that his mount did not finish at all tired and that he is growing more into the finished article.

“He is growing up all the time,” said the Irishman. “Everybody thinks that he can just jump and run but he is more versatile than people think. We have now got option regarding tactics and he is still the one to beat at the moment.

“He’s getting more professional with every run and he’s starting to know he is good now.”

The King’s Stand Stakes was won by Prohibit, who raced four times at Meydan racecourse last season, culminating with a fifth-placed finish under Frankie Dettori in the Al Quoz sprint.

A searing pace was set by Sweet Sanette, the Hong Kong challenger, and Overdose from Hungary, but Prohibit swept through the pack in the final 300metres to deny the fast-finishing Australian raider, Star Witness.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said trainer Robert Cowell. “He acquitted himself really well in Dubai during the Carnival and I felt he would have finished better in the Al Quoz sprint had Frankie not been checked at a crucial moment.

“I can put this guy in a plane just like I would put him in a horse box. I have no plans yet, but if he doesn’t get a penalty for this win, I’d love to go back to Dubai.”

Earlier in the day Canford Cliffs registered his third successive Royal Ascot victory when he accounted for Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of the meeting.

It was the ninth attempt that trainer Richard Hannon had at trying to beat the French champion mare, but where his Paco Boy last year did not have the scope, Canford Cliffs simply outmuscled Goldikova.

Goldikova will once again be aimed at the Breeders Cup, where in November she became the first horse to win three Breeders Cup miles. A fourth may be beyond her, however, as Richard Hannon also hopes to aim Canford Cliffs at Churchill Downs