Cecil hails superstar Frankel

HENRY Cecil declared Frankel to be the greatest horse he had ever set eyes upon after his colt turned the much-publicised clash with Canford Cliffs into an almost hopeless mis-match in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood yesterday.

Considering Cecil himself has enjoyed a nearly unparalleled training career, his assessment was still in-keeping with the feeling of a wide-eyed audience, who witnessed the extraordinary three-year-old quicken five lengths clear of a multiple Group One-winning miler.

This was not a replica of his remorseless front-running in the 2000 Guineas and although Frankel ended up leading the four-strong field by default, he was ridden more patiently and Tom Queally only popped the cork with just over a furlong left.

The Sussex, billed as the ‘duel on the Downs’, had been built up for weeks but even Frankel’s most fervent supporters would have been taken aback by a response of an animal who is starting to stretch the boundaries of possibility.

Canford Cliffs, a 7-4 shot against the 8-13 favourite, tracked Frankel and was just a length adrift before Queally made his move but was beaten within a handful of strides from that point .

Last year’s winner then hung markedly left across the track and his shell-shocked trainer Richard Hannon was left scratching around for answers.

Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Frankel is now unbeaten in eight starts and was given a provisional rating of 132 as the best horse in the world by the British Horseracing Authority handicapper.

“I think it’s a facetious thing to say, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” said Cecil, who at 68 has been champion trainer 10 times and has plundered virtually every race of consequence.

“I suppose the only ones I could compare would be Shergar and Blushing Groom at his best. I can’t go back to the days of Tudor Minstrel and match races, but he’s the best in my lifetime.”

Turning towards the future, Cecil said: “I think he will probably have one more run this year and will have a bit of a break now.

“He’ll possibly go to Ascot for the QEII Stakes. We’ll see how he is. I just train him, and it’s entirely up to the Prince.”

Frankel has another option of the Juddmonte International and Abdullah was no more definite, also suggesting the Prix Jacques le Marois.

Of Canford Cliffs, Hannon said: “That wasn’t his run. I know one horse had to win and one had to lose, but we’ll have to have another go at him.

“Either Frankel is just unbeatable or we should have been closer.”

He later went on: “I don’t think Goodwood is his track. He doesn’t like going downhill, so we’ll see.

“We scoped him and blood tested him and everything is perfect inside. I wouldn’t be worried on a decent track to have another go.”

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