Click above to watch Frankel winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1)
(Image : Express & Star - Footage : Horse Course International)
QUEEN ELIZABETH II STAKES (Group 1)
Ascot, Turf, 1600m
15 October 2011
Brigadier Gerard, Mill Reef, Sea Bird, Ribot, Nearco, Man O’ War, Secretariat, Phar Lap, Sea Cottage. At some time or another, they’ve all been hailed the best ever, and since some of them were never beaten, their claims might have been legitimate.
The latest nominee is the modern-day hero, Frankel, whose victory in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1) at Ascot elicited the usual superlatives. And some. Sir Henry Cecil has been around a long time, and he’s won many a British trainers’ championship. He thinks Frankel is the best horse he’s ever seen, and that says something for a man who married the daughter of Sir Noel Murless, and knew the quality of the horses conditioned by that great man, as well. Like Henry, Sir Noel was made a Knight of the Realm for his prowess with racehorses.
You might’ve expected that from Cecil though, as he trains the horse, so when one of the world’s greatest-ever jockeys, Frankie Detorri, says so, (and he’s never ridden him), we should pay attention. What Frankie said though, was that he’s ridden 500 Group One winners, including the inimitable Dubai Millennium, and none of them were in Frankel’s class. That said, Frankie’s statement is limited to 500 Group One winners, and that doesn’t necessarily make him the best horse of all time, but it’s 500 Group One winners, nonetheless. He was quick to add, that the only view he’s had of Frankel, has been “his backside”.
But, we can take it one step further, with ex-British Champion jockey, Willie Carson, now an eminent TV personality, who’s unhesitating in stamping this one as the best in his lifetime. And so says another British Champion, Michael Roberts, who officiated as a panellist at our Emperors Palace Ready To Run Gallops on Friday.
So Frankel it is for the time being, and when you consider the number of horses in training around the world these days, and the fact that it’s more competitive than ever and more difficult to stand out, he must be in that tiny pantheon of all-time greats, at the very least. It’s tempting to say that his opposition have not been the best generation of milers ever, but what isn’t arguable is the way he’s been winning, and the times he’s been posting. Perhaps he’s just made the rest look ordinary, particularly as several of them have a line through Goldikova, who’s got 14 Group Ones on her CV.
Whilst we don’t want to open up an entirely new debate, at last week’s Tattersalls sales in the UK, Charley Gordon-Watson, as revered among bloodstockers as there is, proclaimed Frankel’s sire, Galileo, the best stallion in his lifetime. That immediately draws comparisons with Galileo’s own sire, Sadler’s Wells, the only horse in history to win as many as twelve European sires titles, by far eclipsing the previous record of Hyperion, and somewhat outdistancing St Simon. Gordon-Watson’s statement was qualified by the caveat that it was Galileo’s versatility which provides him the edge over his illustrious father, given he has some way to go before he’s strung together as many championships as Sadler’s Wells did; Galileo’s stock win Group Ones at two, they’re world-class at a mile as well as a mile and a half, and some of them can go on to two miles. Besides, they win in Europe, Australia, South Africa and, as illustrated by Together’s victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland on Saturday, they win in the United States too, all the time at Group One level.