Frankel has been rated the best horse in the world and on Saturday at Ascot he will bid to rubber stamp that ranking and make it nine wins out of nine starts in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The three-year-old colt is named after late American trainer Bobby Frankel who trained for the champion’s owner Prince Khaled Abdullah.
Convincing wins in the juvenile colts premier race, the Dewhurst Stakes, followed this year by a sensational six length victory in the English 2000 Guineas and other Group One successes in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes have persuaded many he is the best they have ever seen.
Certainly his charismatic trainer Sir Henry Cecil is in no doubt about where he rates him.
“I think it’s a facetious thing to say, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” said the 68-year-old 10-time champion trainer.
“I suppose the only ones I could compare to him are Shergar (who won the 1981 Epsom Derby by a record 10 lengths) and Blushing Groom (European champion three-year-old miler in 1977) at his best.
“I can’t go back to the days of Tudor Minstrel (1947 2000 Guineas winner by record 8 lengths and ranked equal second post-war European horse by form bible Timeform) and match races, but he’s the best in my time.”
Whatever the experts may say about where they rate Frankel, he has become a “people’s champion” because of Cecil’s popularity with the public and also because his jockey Tom Queally is one of the more humble riders on the circuit.
Queally, though, was never in any doubt how good the horse that has helped make his name would turn out to be from the moment he made his racing debut in August 2010.
“We wanted to keep him covered up and relaxed as it was the springboard of his career, and we ended up just toying with the others, playing with them,” the 26-year-old Irishman said.
“It was a freakish performance. When I looked at the replay, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.”
There have been some who have cast doubt on how good Frankel is, namely Richard Hannon, who queried after his star Canford Cliffs was beaten comprehensively in the Sussex Stakes whether the winner was a machine or his horse had been off form.
Hannon’s doubts over the worth of the victory over Canford Cliffs became valid a few days later when he had to retire his miler because of a career ending leg injury he suffered in the Sussex.
However one will find few to agree with Hannon that perhaps Frankel isn’t what he is cooked up to be as he approaches his season swan song.
AFP AAP TURF