Derby or Ascot next for mighty Frankel

HENRY CECIL has confirmed Frankel’s next race will be either the Investec Derby at Epsom or Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes.

Plenty was expected of the unbeaten colt in Saturday’s Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, but even his most ardent supporters could not have dared dream of the scintillating performance he produced.

Totally ignoring expected pacemaker Rerouted, Tom Queally soon sent Frankel to the lead and he galloped his Classic rivals into the ground to secure a famous win.

In the immediate aftermath Cecil suggested the totesport Dante Stakes at York on Thursday week would be under consideration as his next race, but that now appears highly unlikely.

Connections now face a decision whether to step the colt up in distance for a tilt at further Classic glory, or stick to a mile at the Royal meeting.

Cecil insists the final call will be down to Frankel’s owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah.

“The final decision will be the Prince’s so we’ll discuss it with him and we’ll try to work out the best thing for the horse,” Cecil said. “To start with I don’t think there’s any chance of him running in the July Cup, so you can scrap that one. I think eventually, when he gets a bit stronger, there’s every chance he’ll get a mile and a quarter. Whether he’ll get further than that, time will tell.

“The Dante will probably come too close anyway, so I’m not going to test him in the Dante to see if he gets the Derby trip.

“I think the Dante is unlikely. He’s not definitely not (going to run), but it’s not my first thought. The two options are he’ll either go for the St James’s Palace or the Derby. There’s no point guessing and we want to get it right, but people who want to back him for the Derby want to sit, because he’s not definitely going to be a Derby runner.

“We haven’t decided and nothing has been confirmed yet, but I wouldn’t personally back him for the Derby.”

Cecil's tactics took everyone by surprise at Headquarters, but the multiple champion trainer felt there was little point in breaking his colt's powerful stride.

“With the way he was drawn and everything, I just felt that we’d do our own thing,” Cecil said. “He’s got a long stride on him and I didn’t want to put him out of it. He was very relaxed in the race and he can really gallop.

“My plan was to basically ignore the field. Newmarket is difficult as it’s a very testing straight mile. In the last furlong and a half he thought he’d done enough and he was waiting for everyone else.”

Frankel’s success was a remarkable 25th Classic victory for the master of Warren Place, but even he admits the nerves were getting to him on the morning of the race.

“You always get nervous before a race like that and worry things could go wrong,” he said. “Even coming from the yard the traffic was bad and you don’t want to be held up and for the horse to get upset. But he behaved very well.

“He always gets a bit white between his back legs, but that is just the adrenalin going. He was very good in the paddock and he hacked down to the start like an old hunter. Everything just went as planned and I’m just very happy and very grateful to have this wonderful horse on my hands.”

Such was the ferocious gallop Frankel set from start to finish, many would have expected him to have been feeling the effects yesterday.

But Cecil revealed him in fine form and believes he did not have as hard a race as it might have looked.

“He’s fine this morning. He licked up last night and was hollering for his breakfast,” said the trainer. “He had a 10 minute walk to stretch his legs and a 15 minute pick of grass in the paddock. He looks to have taken the race very well.

“Obviously any race takes a bit out of a horse and I’ll have to feel my way back with him carefully and quietly. There’s no rush at all. His way of running with that long stride looks exhausting, but he’s well within himself. He probably didn’t have as hard a race as people think.”

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