Cecil praises victorious 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 today.

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 today.

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.

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."

Cecil, who looked nervous beforehand, was asked whether he was surprised by the display.

"It sounds awful, but no," he replied.

"My job was done and it was a bit like going to the dentist's beforehand, just waiting for it to be over.

"I did think he could win very easily, but I thought I'd let the horse do the talking.

"I do think the world of him, and I've got to thank the Prince and all those involved with him.

"He's a much better horse now than earlier in the year, he's still improving.

"He's not as big as Canford Cliffs but he's getting stronger. That horse is very good, so to beat him like that - hats off to Frankel!"

Abdullah is a demure interviewee but the acclaimed owner-breeder concurred with Cecil.

"I think he is the best I've ever had - including Dancing Brave," he said.

"Even from the beginning, Henry said he was the best and I followed him.

"Henry thought he was going to run better than he had at any other place and he was right."

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.

But when asked if Frankel could stay in training at four, he replied with a smile: "If Henry wants him."

Queally took the plaudits in the Guineas but came in for some criticism for his aggressive tactics during Frankel's narrow victory in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"The biggest problem I had was pulling him up," he said.

"You get a good feeling from riding proper Group One horses but I'm afraid he's just out on his own.

"Plan A would have been to get him settled in behind but we had to do different things and I decided to use my initiative.

"He made the other horses look ordinary and they are very good horses. It's just a fantastic day.

"He does everything - he quickens, he stays. I can't find a flaw. Can anybody?"

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."

Jockey Richard Hughes added: "I just felt my lad didn't move great, he didn't really stretch and then he hung badly.

"He was hanging five out but if we had beaten (Frankel) and they were making excuses I wouldn't like it, so I don't want to do the same."

Rio De La Plata and Rajsaman were really reduced to the roles of bystanders, but finished in that respective order.

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