Frankel’s display at Newmarket over six weeks ago, when he had broken his rivals by halfway, still takes the breath away and jockey Tom Queally was even more affirmative here, urging the colt to chase his pacemaker Rerouted and sailing clear before the home turn.
He could not maintain his merciless pace to the line, allowing Zoffany to get within three-quarters of a length, but Queally and trainer Henry Cecil maintained Frankel had merely decided he could take it easy for the final furlong.
Cecil’s 73rd winner at the Royal meeting extending a clear lead over his peers. Handed his prize by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Cecil was given a typically enthusiastic reception and the whole of Ascot hung on his every word, particularly about Frankel’s next target.
He was circumspect, but outlined that either a potential clash with Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes or a step up to 10 furlongs for the Juddmonte International at York were the two races in his thinking.
“He wasn’t at all tired, he just thought he’d done enough,” said Cecil of Frankel, who was returned the 30-100 favourite.
“That’s good really, it means we can settle him in behind now.
“The plan was to go before the bend, but the pacemaker went off very quickly and Tom really asked him to catch him.
“Tom said he was getting really idle which is good in a way as it means we can ride a normal race on him.
“He strode on in the Royal Lodge here last year, but now he’s getting wiser and he thought he’d done enough. It was just like in the Guineas.”
Looking further ahead, Cecil will continue discussions with Frankel’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.
He explained: “I never like three-year-olds to meet four-year-olds until later in the season
“He’ll be entered in the Sussex Stakes and he’ll be entered in the Juddmonte International.
“The question with the Juddmonte is whether he will stay. It’s the Prince’s race, he has never won it, but we’ll see. I think he’ll stay further but I’m not certain. We’ll advise the Prince and he’ll take the final decision. Let’s do the best for the horse.”
Queally said: “He was more relaxed today than he has ever been.
“Nobody wanted to chase the pace so as a result I went sooner rather than later. He was in front for a long way and he was just getting a bit sick of it. He does it so easy.
“He wasn’t getting tired. He’s growing up all the time. Everyone seems to think he can just jump and run but he’s more versatile than that.
“I think he’s starting to know he’s a good horse now. Yes, he only won by three-quarters of a length, but nothing’s finished three-quarters of a length in front of him yet.”
Zoffany was having his first start at a mile, leaving trainer Aidan O’Brien satisfied.
He said: “He has a lot of speed and we were obviously worried because I don’t think he’s ever raced beyond seven furlongs.
“We’ll definitely have another go at this trip and have a look at the Sussex Stakes or something like that.”
Excelebration, who gave Frankel a brief fright in the Greenham Stakes, was an honourable third.
“He almost fell out of the stalls and lost probably a length there,” rued trainer Marco Botti.
“Then it was a bit of a messy race and Adam Kirby said he got hampered a couple of times.
“We have to be happy with that though – he wasn’t beaten far in a Group One and the race was run in a good time.”
Connections will have hoped for better from Dream Ahead, Dubawi Gold and Wootton Bassett, who finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.