Frankel’s odds suggest a lay rather than a play

IS he the real deal, or the most over-hyped horse we have seen in a long time?

The beastie in question, of course, is Frankel, who swept all before him last season and made his reappearance in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury last Saturday.

Most observers seem to believe the imposing son of Galileo is indeed the second coming and time may well prove them right.

Frankel won all of his four races as a two-year-old, one of them by 13 lengths and another by ten lengths.

Such margins are a rarity in top-class flat racing and are usually the preserve of the National Hunt game in the depths of winter.

Frankel is trained by Henry Cecil and he is regarded, a bit like the Queen, as something of an institution.

Cecil is absolutely loved by the English and certainly the most popular trainer, at least on the flat, in that country.

He’s fought his demons, in the good old days he’d often have a sherbet or two on board when coming across to the Curragh, and battled some serious health problems over the last couple of years.

If Frankel now goes and wins the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket then there will hardly be a dry eye in the house and that is no great exaggeration.

We know he has been the medium of a massive bet with Victor Chandler for the first colts’ classic of the campaign, at 10-11.

The wager was £550,000 to win £500,000 and there is no possibility of odds even close to that being visited again by any of the firms.

We know the hype tells us he reportedly outpaced the Newmarket to Cambridge passenger train one morning, although, conveniently perhaps, we’re not aware as to how fast the train was actually travelling!

In any case all of this seeps into the system and we are left with a horse who has to take the 2000 Guineas with a style and a swagger in keeping with his reputation, otherwise it will be a case of disappointment all round.

So what do we make of his performance in the Greenham? Personally, I was less than impressed, notwithstanding the fact Frankel won going away by four lengths.

Lots of people appeared to be blown away by the display, but I thought Richard Hannon summed it up best when describing the success as “workmanlike.’

Frankel didn’t do anything wrong, but just took a little while to hit top gear and it was a performance which didn’t exactly take your eye out. You would expect him to beat a 25-1 shot, Excelebration, cosily enough and that’s all he did. His only serious rival, Strong Suit, ran no race, trailing in sixth of six.

I was a little surprised Cecil ran the horse in the first place and didn’t send him directly to the Guineas.

Frankel does take a fair hold, we know that, and I suppose the thinking was to take the cork off and leave out a little of the fizz.

Cecil is a shrewd operator, may have left a lot to work on and there is the obvious possibility Frankel will make dramatic improvement in two weeks.

We will have to see how the contest finally shapes up, but my gut instinct is that if Frankel is sufficiently short enough, say 4-6 or worse, then I’d prefer to be a layer rather than a backer.

Irish jockey among race-fixing five

IN the not too distant future the British Horseracing Authority is expected to lay charges against five flat jockeys and two owners with regard to race-fixing.

Yet again the game will be dragged through the mud and make headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

This week I was given the names of the jockeys and the owners. The owners meant little or nothing, but we are all familiar with the jockeys.

One of them has a particularly good job, while another, sadly, is Irish. It will eventually make for fascinating reading, I’ll be especially fascinated to note how accurate my informant proves to be, with racing the big loser.

Gemstone backers left feeling flat

IF you backed Gemstone, in the Listed race for fillies at Navan last Sunday, how did you feel afterwards?

Gemstone had, arguably, the best form facing into this contest, but spread a plate at the start and had to be re-shod. That took time and the race was off 13 minutes late. Gemstone then proceeded to perform deplorably.

At no stage did she promise to deliver and could only manage seventh of nine, beaten a whopping 21 lengths. I’d say Gemstone was beaten even before being loaded into the stalls and her supporters got no sort of run for their money.

Should she have even run, I don’t know? What you can say is that it clearly left a sour taste in the mouth.

Two for the price of one - brilliant!

PUNCHESTOWN has decided to adopt the Cheltenham system for their festival next month and use two commentators, rather than one. Dessie Scahill normally does all five days, a mammoth task by any standard, but this year the burden will be shared with rising star Jerry Hannon. Two for the price of one, so to speak, is a brilliant idea and surely the way to go in the future for marathon meetings.

Of course the really interesting thing about this is will Galway follow suit? Seven days, the bones of 50 races - surely they too need two commentators!

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