Frankel returns in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood (3.10pm) tomorrow, having scared all opponents away bar two. The only other horse in the line-up is the 1/20 favourite’s pacemaker.
Henry Cecil’s unbeaten monster is universally and officially acclaimed as the best horse in the world with a handicapper’s rating of 140. Remember when there was talk of Black Caviar in the same breath as ‘Freak’ Frankel? Now you wouldn’t mention the Aussie mare within five minutes of him.
Is this even a race?
If the real Frankel turns up then ‘no’. It is just an exercise canter but it is amusing to hear the bookies’ PR representatives puke out the usual clichés to draw in the mug money. ‘Betting on Frankel at 1/20 is safer than money in the bank,’ is a paraphrase of what Ladbrokes had to say!
Sometimes these bookmakers really do recognise us for the mugs we must be. There is bound to be the odd idiot lumping £200,000 on to win £10,000. Do that twenty times on 1/20 shots and the bookies will all be billion-pound, multi-national companies with listings in the FTSE100. Hang on a minute, they are. After all, these are not horses but machines and machines never go wrong.
Is there any opposition?
Well FRANKEL has won all 11 of his races and mostly by wide margins. He looked mildly less of a freak in June 2011 when Zoffany got within a length of him in the St James’s Palace Stakes. That was the last time he looked even slightly vulnerable.
The horse that has got closest to him was Nathaniel , denied by half a length when both horses made their debuts at Newmarket in August 2010. John Gosden must have been gutted his subsequent King George & Diamond Stakes winner was beaten. Even he could not have known that race could stake claim to being the best maiden ever run.
Frankel’s most recent victory in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot was his most impressive. It was an 11-length romp that saw him beat long-suffering Excelebration into second for the fourth time. Either the runner-up has got worse for the move from Marco Botti’s yard to Aidan O’Brien or Frankel has got better. Probably both.
FARHH is at least a genuine Group 1 performer and thank heavens he is in this line-up or this event would the air of total farce. It may already to some people, but Farhh’s best form is his most recent and he is no muppet, despite being officially rated 18lb inferior to Frankel. Excelebration, who was destroyed by Frankel at Ascot is rated Farhh’s superior by 3lb. That is a measure of the mountain the Godolphin horse has to climb.
Farhh is very lightly raced, on an upward curve and was only beaten half a length by Nathaniel in the Eclipse. The latter was subsequently denied a consecutive victory in the aforementioned summer highlight of the King George at Ascot by a nose from Danedream, last year’s runaway Arc winner. That form line puts Farhh higher up the pecking order than official ratings may suggest. If Frankel is below par then this is the one who could trouble him.
BULLET TRAIN is Frankel’s pacemaker and has been beaten a creditable 12 lengths, 12 lengths and 16 lengths by his illustrious travelling companion on the last three occasions. That last-named margin is another pointer to ‘Freak’ Frankel actually improving.
GABRIAL is an example of sensible placement for maximum prize money and, more importantly for the colt, a crucial Group 1 placing is going begging. Rated 108, he is actually the inferior of Bullet Train but will be ridden to maximise his place unlike the pacemaker who will be sacrificed for his esteemed stablemate. I still believe Bullet Train will beat him for third position, in which case Gabrial will pick up a £17,000 consolation for last place.
Some will think this is not a race at all, merely an exercise canter but it may be folly to underestimate Farhh. It is just a shame that he comes from Godolphin, an outfit whose horses tend to struggle to hold their form or to maintain their progression. Let’s hope he bucks the trend and gives Frankel a race. If Farhh runs to his Eclipse form he should get closer to the master than Excelebration ever has.
As for a betting tip, we are going to sit firmly on the fence and advise that you just watch the race. I would not blame anyone for a little wager on Farhh in hope rather than expectation that a wheel comes off the great Frankel. As for actually betting on a 1/10 or 1/20 shot – that should be left solely to the mentally challenged.