Cecil confident Frankel can show true colours

SUPERSTARS abound at Royal Ascot today, but all eyes will be on Frankel when Henry Cecil’s superstar defends his unbeaten record in the St James's Palace Stakes.

The Galileo colt left the racing world stunned when he made all in astonishing fashion under Tom Queally to claim the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, having things wrapped up at halfway to spark applause from the crowd.

Connections resisted the temptation to have a crack at the Investec Derby and stick to a mile for his next assignment, where he faces eight rivals.

Cecil said: “I’d love him to continue to be a champion because racing needs horses like Sea The Stars, Mill Reef and Arkle.”

“I’ve had to bring him back from the Guineas carefully. Because of his long stride he gets himself there quicker than a lazy, idle horse.

However, Cecil is fully aware that nothing in racing is as straightforward as it looks.

He said: “In any Group One you’ve got to respect the opposition.

“Marco Botti’s horse (Excelebration) has improved from when I beat him at Newbury. I thought Richard Hannon’s horse (Dubawi Gold) was unlucky in Ireland and there’s the Japanese horse (Grand Prix Boss), who I haven’t seen but by all accounts he’s very powerful.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’d love to see him win and carry on. There’s no such thing as a certainty, but I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t win.

Excelebration was beaten four lengths by Frankel in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury before going on to Classic glory of his own by seven lengths, albeit in the Group Two German 2,000 Guineas.

As the Greenham was Excelebration’s first race for nine months, his trainer Marco Botti has good reason to expect another fine display - and he has been the one for money against the favourite in recent days.

The in-form Botti said: “I couldn’t be happier. I think he’s in good shape and he’s been working well.

“We think he has improved a lot. Frankel beat him four lengths in the Greenham, but you have to consider our horse hadn’t run since July last year.

“We expect him to have come on, Frankel has probably done the same, but our horse is entitled to be there.”

Grand Prix Boss was a champion two-year-old in his native land and was a Group One winner in Tokyo’s NHK Mile Cup in May.

Koji Kubo, assistant to trainer Yoshito Yahagi, said: “His training has been strong and we have big hopes.

“I believe that Grand Prix Boss is the best mile horse in Japan and it is very exciting to have him racing against the best horses at Royal Ascot.

“Frankel is a superstar, even in Japan everyone knows how good he is, but Japanese racing fans are excited to have a runner against him.”

Dubawi Gold was six lengths behind Frankel when second in the Guineas at Newmarket, while he was only three-quarters of a length away from winning the Irish equivalent.

Trainer Richard Hannon does not expect his charge to reverse the placings with Cecil’s charge, but is hopeful he may be able to lessen the gap.

Richard Fahey’s stable star Wootton Bassett was unbeaten as a juvenile but could only finish fifth when favourite for last month’s French 2000 Guineas.

Jockey Paul Hanagan is sure his mount can improve on that effort.

“I’m looking forward to the race and I hope he can show his true form,” said Hanagan.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox