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Frankel - Goodwood 2012

Frankel: the story of this true racing legend closes this weekend

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Frankel the blueprint to measure future stars

WORLD CLASS: an analysis of the international scene according to Racing Post Ratings

DAWN APPROACH was the star of Future Champions Day but you only have to look forward a week to see what a tough act he has to follow.

On Saturday, Ascot hosts the final curtain call for one of the greats. And this is not a makeshift champion, a pseudo-legend or a passing great. Frankel's name is one that will pass the real endurance test in racing.

Elevating champions beyond their station is an annual event in our sport - because in their moment they are the best around - but after decades of inverted-comma legends, along came a real one.

After Sea The Stars the sport was braced for a long wait until another superstar came along but just a year later we had Harbinger, who ran to a similar level of form as John Oxx's colt when winning the King George, albeit just the once.

And then the following year up popped Frankel. All of a sudden it seemed like becoming an exceptional champion was easy. Then Frankel kicked it up a notch.

His two-year-old form promised plenty. A 13-length win, a ten-length Group 2 win, then a cosy Dewhurst success. Unbeaten in four. And the margins were backing up that lofty reputation.

Juvenile form is only a promise though, and similarly exceptional youngsters like Celtic Swing have shown us it isn't always fully converted in their three-year-old season. Then Frankel converted it.

Six lengths in the Guineas, five lengths in the Sussex, four lengths in the Queen Elizabeth II. Unbeaten in nine. His winning margins continued to defy convention, his beaten rivals continued to cement the form.

And then a third season. Not enough to be exceptional, connections broke from the traditional three-year-old retirement plan to prove what the mature horse could achieve. And Frankel achieved it.

Five lengths at Newbury, 11 lengths at Ascot, six lengths at Goodwood and seven lengths at York. Still untouchable, still beating horses who would win Group 1 races elsewhere.

The story of this true racing legend closes this weekend. He will go on to fresh challenges, which will leave a lasting impression on the breed as he has on the racetrack.

Sir Henry Cecil's colt has shown us how high the bar goes, earning a rating almost 10lb higher than an average world champion.

He is a phenomenon, a one-off. We won't see wins by such great margins again, especially with such consistency, and we won't see form work out so incredibly well again; Frankel was clear at the top of the highest tree.

Next year the normalisation process begins and Dawn Approach has the ominous task of trying to impress a racing public who have just had three seasons of Frankel.

Enthusiasts will have to return to the humdrum of an annual champion who was the best of his group but ultimately beatable on an off day and certainly no Frankel; a return to championship races which are open to more than one horse; to speculative punting instead of money-laundering on 1-20 shots, to a time of oligopoly instead of monopoly, and to a time when valid debates can be held over who is the 'best' horse in a given year.

But perhaps Frankel will not affect our long-term perception? Perhaps we never really believed it in the first place? Perhaps his superiority was so alarming to our understanding of variables, distribution and probability that we will be comforted by the return to run-of-the-mill champions who win by a length? Perhaps the comedown will happen so quickly that someone might pop out the "legend" epithet next year?

Nobody knows what Dawn Approach might achieve next year, or what next year's champion juvenile might do in 2014, but thanks to Frankel there is a new barometer to which we can expect everything to fall short.

Dawn Approach is an early favourite to become the 'best horse since Frankel' after stretching his unbeaten run to six in the Dewhurst Stakes on Saturday, earning an RPR of 122+ (1lb off his National Stakes figure).

He is certainly the classiest two-year-old in Europe. He can cover a racing distance faster than any other of his age - the clock backed that up on the weekend - but he doesn't have another gear; there's no finishing kick and no tactical acceleration, so he will need things to fall right next year.

It sounds finicky to pick holes in a six-time winning champion juvenile, but the gap in his profile seems obvious when compared to Frankel.

And perhaps that will be Frankel's real legacy for the racecourse? The perfect blueprint. By measuring each horse against him we can see what is missing; the reason others cannot consistently win by wide-margins with unfettered brilliance.

Dawn Approach can still win races without a turn of foot and stepping up to a mile for the first time may help him power away to win the 2,000 Guineas in May. He just won't be Frankel. Nothing will.

In 20 years someone might be tempted to take a good look at Frankel sat up there on the highest perch; to challenge the supremacy of the triple champ, but Frankel is there to stay.

He will sit on the top shelf forever. He might get company, but that shelf will not fill up; 1,000 bloodstock experts working on 1,000 tablets couldn't come up with a mating to achieve another Frankel. Not even if one of them was Jim Bolger.

TOP OF THE CLASS Dawn Approach 122+ Jim Bolger (Ire) (Dewhurst Stakes, Newmarket, 7f, October 13)


TOP LIST


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Frankel (GB)
Queen Anne/International 142T
2
 Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr)
Prix Dollar
131T
3  Black Caviar (Aus)
Lightning Stakes
130T
4
 Hay List (Aus)
Newmarket Handicap 129T

 

 Orfevre (Jap)
Takarazuka Kinen
129T
6
 Wise Dan (US)
Ben Ali/Stephen Foster  128A/D
7 Camelot (Ire) Derby 127T
 Excelebration (Ire)
Lockinge Stakes 127T

 I'll Have Another (US)
Preakness Stakes 127D
   So You Think (Ire)
Tattersalls Gold Cup 127T
   St Nicholas Abbey (Ire)
Coronation Cup 127T
   Nathaniel (GB)
Eclipse/King George 127T
   Moonlight Cloud (Fr)
Prix Maurice de Gheest 127T
   Dullahan (US)
Pacific Classic 127A

TOP TURF PERFORMERS


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Frankel (GB)
Queen Anne/International 142
2
 Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr)
Prix Dollar
131
3
 Black Caviar (Aus)
Lightning Stakes
130
4
 Hay List (Aus)
Newmarket Handicap 129

 Orfevre (Jap)
Takarazuka Kinen
129
 6
 Camelot (Ire)
Derby 127
   Excelebration (Ire)
Lockinge Stakes 127
   So You Think (Ire)
Tattersalls Gold Cup 127
   St Nicholas Abbey (Ire)
Coronation Cup 127
   Moonlight Cloud (Fr)
Prix Maurice de Gheest 127
   Nathaniel (GB)
Eclipse/King George 127
   Wise Dan (US)
Fourstardave Handicap 127

TOP DIRT PERFORMERS


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Wise Dan (US)
Stephen Foster Hcap 128
2  I'll Have Another (US)
Preakness Stakes 127
3  Bodemeister (US)
Arkansas/Preakness 126
   Caleb's Posse (US)
Met Mile 126
5  Amazombie (US)
Churchill Downs 125
   Fort Larned (US)
Whitney Handicap 125

Game On Dude (US) Awesome Again 125
8  Ron The Greek (US)
Stephen Foster Hcap 124
   Shackleford (US)
Met Mile 124
   Successful Dan (US)
Alysheba Stakes
124

TOP ALL-WEATHER PERFORMERS


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Wise Dan (US)
Ben Ali 
128
2  Dullahan (US) Pacific Classic 127
3
 Monterosso (UAE)
Dubai World Cup 126
4  Amazombie (US)
Bing Crosby Handicap 125
   Game On Dude (US)
Hollywood Gold Cup 125
6  Camp Victory (US)
Triple Bend Hcap 124
7  Krypton Factor (BHR)
Golden Shaheen
123
8  Musir (SAF)
Maktoum Challenge R1
122
   Colour Vision (GB)
Sagaro Stakes 122
   The Factor (US)
Triple Bend Hcap 122
 
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