Queally counting his blessings

More an established star now rather than a name for the future, Tom Queally still could not believe his luck as he managed to top his 2009 Group One tally this year.

Five wins at the highest level was something to be really proud of in 2009 — but to go one better than that in 2010 was something very special and most unexpected.

His super six wins included two on the same day at Newmarket in October, truly an afternoon to savour as he won the Dewhurst Stakes on his main Classic prospect Frankel, followed by back-to-back victories in the Champion Stakes on his trusted old friend Twice Over.

Queally and Twice Over had also won the Coral-Eclipse while the three other top-level wins for the rider were achieved on the fantastic mare Midday in the Nassau Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille.

“I’ve really had a fantastic year. Horses like Midday and Twice Over were very good for me,” reflected Queally.

“Last season was always going to be a hard act to follow because I had five Group Ones the previous year.

“I didn’t think I had any chance of bettering that, but thankfully I did.

“That was very good for me and I’ve a lot to look forward to next year as well, so with a bit of luck things will go right and the horses stay sound.

“Without a doubt, the highlight for me of the season just gone by was the Group One double on Champions Day on Frankel and Twice Over.”

Although still relatively young in the professional Flat jockey ranks at the age of 26, Queally has stamped himself in the top flight of world-class riders over the last couple of seasons.

He certainly had the pedigree, having been champion apprentice in his native Ireland in 2000 before repeating the feat in England four years later.

Firmly established as stable jockey to the resurgent Henry Cecil at Warren Place and regularly donning the famous colours of Khalid Abdullah, Queally racked up a century of winners for the third consecutive year to go with his haul of major successes.

With the likes of Midday and Twice Over staying in training in 2011 and Frankel the leading light among Cecil’s battalion of Classic contenders, Queally has every reason to be looking forward to another successful campaign.

“Frankel is a very exciting prospect. Hopefully he’ll winter well and get to the spring in good heart and one piece,” he enthused.

“You need a lot of luck in this game and the main thing is for the horses to stay safe. You can’t do it without them at the end of the day.

“In my position I’ve been very lucky with the opportunities I’ve been given by Henry Cecil and obviously his main patron the Prince (Abdullah).

“Frankel is certainly giving me plenty to look forward to during the winter.

“There’s a very exciting year ahead and if it turns out to be as good as the one just gone I’d be very happy, but you can’t expect that.”

Time will tell if Queally can prove himself wrong the for the second year running.

He was agonisingly denied a first British Classic success when Jacqueline Quest was demoted in the 1000 Guineas, but in Frankel he is on the 4-5 favourite for the 2000 Guineas and 6-1 for the Derby with Coral.

The Barking-based firm’s spokesman David Stevens admits they fear Frankel in the first colts’ Classic in particular.

“This a horse we don’t particularly want to lay for the Guineas. We think he’ll win it and we’re happy to duck him,” he said.

“There’s a long way to go, but you look at the champions Henry has had and you feel he’s in the best hands. Tom is a jockey very much on the up – he proved that last year in the big races and the year before as well.

“You look at it and there are no weaknesses. The horse is bomb-proof, he’s with the right trainer and he’s got a jockey who’s not going to be found wanting when it comes to the big races.”

Cecil himself is delighted to have Queally at Warren Place, and reports all well with Frankel.

He said: “Tom has come on so much in the last year and a half. He’s doing really well and I’m very happy. We get on well together and I like having my own jockey.

“It works far more like a team that way – I’ve been lucky to have some good ones down the years and I’ve got another good one in Tom.

“Frankel has definitely got Guineas potential, he’s not just a two-year-old and I think he has plenty of size about him. I hope he can grow up a bit mentally too.

“He’s by Galileo, but he’s out of a fast family. I think he’ll have to grow up a lot to get more than a mile, but he might get a mile and a quarter when he is older.”

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