A look back at sheer brilliance from Frankel
Outstanding two-year-old. Exceptional three-year-old. Was it too much to ask that Frankel might return for a third season in the same invincible form?
We didn't have long to wait to find out.
Frankel had only five opponents in the 2012 JLT Lockinge Stakes, and one of them was his pacemaker Bullet Train, but proof that he had trained on into an even better four-year-old was delivered in yet another 100-second blast of sheer brilliance.
Yardsticks do not come much more dependable than Excelebration, an old foe whom Frankel had first met in the Greenham on the same course 13 months earlier. Frankel had beaten Excelebration impressively by four lengths that day, and he repeated the margin at Ascot six months later in the QEII Stakes.
Excelebration had moved to Aidan O'Brien by Lockinge day and he already had a race under his belt, having trotted up in a Group 3 at the Curragh. Yet Frankel treated with contempt once more, travelling well throughout, taking it up two out, and then surging right away to stretch his superiority to five lengths in easy fashion. A tenth career success had yielded another personal best.
There have been one or two wider-margin winners of the Lockinge, and there have been plenty of more exciting finishes to the race, yet this was a victory that would live long in the memory.
Sir Henry Cecil was happy. Tom Queally was happy. And hordes of adoring fans left Newbury knowing they had seen something very special.