The incomparable Frankel bows out at the top with a brave 14th win
There will never be another day at Ascot quite like the 2012 Qipco Champions Day when Frankel defied both testing conditions and a botched start to retire unbeaten.
As well as Sir Henry Cecil, Teddy Grimthorpe and Tom Queally, a key part of the story of his gutsy win over Cirrus Des Aigles in the Champion Stakes is Shane Fetherstonhaugh who rode Khalid Abdullah's champion every day at home.
Fetherstonhaugh, who now works for Charlie Appleby, recalls the build up to the six-runner contest in which Frankel recorded his 14th straight win.
"There was more pressure than ever on all of us going into the Champion Stakes, especially Henry, when we knew it was Frankel's last race. I remember the ground was borderline heavy a few days before and Henry had mentioned to me about pulling him out but as people were coming from all over the world to see him run he said he just couldn't do it."
"I didn't really want to go as I could see something going wrong but when I arrived I'd never seen so many people. The whole day seemed to be geared around him, everywhere was decked out in the pink and green Abdullah colours and I thought what an anti-climax it would be if he got turned over."
It was nearly over before it had begun, Fetherstonhaugh went on: "I remember Teddy walked the track before racing and said it was heavy down the back but not so bad up the straight so we should be okay. If it had been heavy the whole way around he might have been pulled out as taking on Cirrus Des Aigles, who loved the heavy, on that surface would have been a big risk."
The drama did not stop there: "I watched the race on the grandstand steps with my partner Claire and when he missed the break I thought he was beat. Thankfully, he gradually made up the ground and his sheer class got him home. Afterwards, Henry and most of us were in tears through sheer relief."
Although he does not see Frankel as often as he would like, Fetherstonhaugh is proud of his past association: "For me personally, it was a big relief to have got him through his career unbeaten and also to retire as a sound horse. I rode Motivator before I joined Henry and some Group horses at Charlie's but nothing even comes close to Frankel. He's a legend."
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