O’Brien upbeat as Abbey braced for Frankel challenge

Jockey Joseph O’Brien is excited about being involved in the Juddmonte International at York today and his mount, St Nicholas Abbey, is a new threat to Frankel.

But whereas Frankel is stepping up in trip for the first time, St Nicholas Abbey’s best form is over a mile and a half. O’Brien does not expect the distance to be a problem, though.

He said: “It doesn’t get much better than this, taking on Frankel with a horse like St Nicholas Abbey.

“He ran well at Ascot last time and has been in good form at home.

“The drop in trip is a question mark for some, but I don’t see it being too much of a problem.

“I’ve never thought of a mile and a quarter being a problem for him as he’s got so much speed.

“When he won the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he did it with a great turn of foot and 10 furlongs with a bit of nice ground should be right up his street.

“The nice ground is what we’ve been waiting for.”

After 12 victories in 12 starts, Henry Cecil’s wonderhorse is stepping up to 10 furlongs for the first time after having conquered all-comers over a mile.

Frankel has been even more impressive this year and his victory by 11 lengths in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot showed how much he had matured compared to his scrambling success in the St James’s Palace Stakes the previous season.

“I think he’ll get it the trip and I’m looking forward to riding him,” said Tom Queally, who has partnered Frankel in all 12 victories.

Cecil, who has been receiving ongoing treatment for cancer and could make a welcome return to the track, admits they are going into the unknown, although he has no concerns by the extra two furlongs.

“Frankel seems in good order at the moment. I do not think the distance is going to be a problem,” said Cecil.

Stablemate Twice Over, reunited with Ian Mongan after their International success in 2011, showed more certain signs of life when third in the Coral-Eclipse. Cecil added: “Twice Over is fresh and well, and deserves to take his chance.


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