Frankel extends unbeaten run at Newbury

Frankel extends unbeaten run at Newbury

Frankel shrugged off an early-season injury scare and confirmed himself as the best racehorse in the world with a typically explosive display in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this afternoon.

Henry Cecil's freakishly talented four-year-old was bidding to maintain his unbeaten record, and clocked up a perfect 10 under Tom Queally as the 2-7 favourite beat old foe Excelebration by five lengths.

The return of last year's 2000 Guineas, St James's Palace, Sussex Stakes and QEII winner had been anticipated all through the winter, but his loyal fanbase had their mettle tested when Cecil last month revealed the immaculate son of Galileo had suffered a setback.

Typical of his star quality, though, Frankel was soon back in full work and resumed winning ways just five weeks later.

A bumper crowd flocked to the Berkshire track to witness the reappearance of their hero and the colt was gently applauded around the parade ring before heading down to the mile start.

Cecil's pre-race tactics were executed to perfection with Frankel following the fellow Khalid Abdullah-owned Bullet Train through the early part of the race before quickening away with over a furlong to run.

Excelebration had three times finished in the wake of Frankel when in the excellent care of Marco Botti last season, but even the move to Irish supremo Aidan O'Brien failed to squeeze out the necessary improvement as the recent Curragh winner was hopelessly adrift at the line.

Revealing the difficulties in readying Frankel for the race, Cecil said: "You have to just feel your way as you can't make up time.

"You can't squeeze 10 days' missed work into the time so you have to try and get him here without flattening him.

"His first race is never his best race but we had to bring him here as he needed a race before Ascot and he has done it very easily.

"He is stronger this year and Tom said his acceleration is incredible.

"He behaved beforehand and there was very little sweating between his legs. He always takes a bit of a hold and is a bit fresh and he had a very good blow afterwards.

"He could do no more than he did today.

"The last few weeks have not been very straightforward and I am very happy for the Prince and I am very lucky to have the horse.

"It is lovely for racing and thank goodness that he came through the setback."

A step up to a mile and a quarter is likely to come at some stage, but all indications are he will stick to a mile for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Cecil said: "All being well, he will probably tackle the longer trip later in the year but there is no hurry.

"I would think it is more likely he will go the Queen Anne and we will then go from there.

"We have the choice of the Eclipse, Sussex or the Juddmonte after that and we will just see - he will tell me."

Queally added: "It's a great relief he's come back. He's grown up from last year, he's thicker set.

"If you look at him now, he's the real deal - he's filled out since last year.

"He showed that burst of acceleration. He's not like anything I've sat on before.

"I looked at Excelebration at the start and he looked a million dollars.

"He is a great horse and Aidan has done a fantastic job, as did Marco Botti last year, and to kick away from a horse like that is amazing."

The Ballydoyle camp were out in force in an attempt to lower Frankel's colours, but O'Brien was typically respectful in defeat.

He said: "Frankel is a great horse, isn't he?

"It's great for everyone, but I'm delighted for Henry, for Tom, the Prince and everybody involved with him.

"Marco Botti did a great job with Excelebration last year and we didn't come here under any illusions.

"He had a nice run at the Curragh last time and we looked forward to coming here.

"A mile has been his trip so far, but I don't know where we'll go next."

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