Out of this world: relive Frankel's astonishing victory in the 2,000 Guineas
First published on Sunday, May 1, 2011
After the royal wedding came a coronation at Newmarket yesterday when Frankel demonstrated he could be racing's new king with a performance as breathtaking as any occasion at Westminster Abbey.
The outstanding heir to a Classic title for the last six months, Khalid Abdullah's colt produced one of the most astonishing 2,000 Guineas-winning displays when making all the running to claim the Qipco-sponsored prize.
In a water-cooler moment for British racing, Frankel destroyed his field by six lengths, the second widest winning margin in the history of the race, and bagged a 25th domestic Classic for his trainer Henry Cecil, plus a first in Britain for jockey Tom Queally.
If there were any doubts about the colt's star quality after five wins, they were firmly laid to rest yesterday as Cecil and Queally executed the most audacious plan, wrongfooting their rivals – who expected Frankel to follow his pacemaker Rerouted – by letting him lead from the outset.
By halfway Frankel was so far clear that Queally took a peek between his legs and was reassured to see that no-one was anywhere near him. He got to work on the colt with a furlong to run but victory was already secure and they passed the post to win by a margin bettered only by eight-length winner Tudor Minstrel in 1947. Frankel's starting price of 1-2 made him the shortest-priced winner of the race since Colombo scored at 2-7 in 1934.
Dubawi Gold beat Native Khan by a half a length for second with Slim Shadey 11 lengths clear of the next finisher Fury, while the race's other Group 1 winners, Pathfork, Casamento and Roderic O'Connor, could finish only seventh, tenth and eleventh.
There followed a stampede from the stands to the winners' enclosure by awestruck spectators desperate to applaud Frankel.
"By God he showed them," Queally said. "He did it better than I ever thought he would. The first thing you think is what kind of speed we are going, but to Frankel it feels like a routine canter. Then he has quickened up and lengthened away. It's fantastic.
"I was amazed I was so far clear at halfway. He's happiest when he is galloping and I just wanted him to roll on. I felt at Newbury [in the Greenham Stakes] we were upsetting him holding him back and we maybe lost a length at the start we could have used at the end. We took them by surprise, but I'm delighted he did it like that."
Cecil, who last won the 2,000 Guineas 35 years ago with Wollow, had hinted at making the running on Frankel earlier in the week so he could use his huge stride, a plan he finalised after the race draw, which berthed Frankel and Rerouted on opposite sides of the stalls.
"It worked out exactly as I wanted it to work out," Cecil said. "I thought he could do it like that if he relaxed from the front. Having been in front so long, he was wondering where all the other horses were. He was going to sleep and waiting for them, but that's not a bad thing.
"He hasn't taken too much out of himself. I thought if it was going to be a muddling pace I didn't want to put him out of his stride. When I saw him him six lengths clear I thought we'd done the right thing."
Frankel was cut to a top-priced 7-2 for the Investec Derby with Victor Chandler, but is 6-4 with a run with William Hill and Bet365. Having previously voiced doubts about the colt staying the Derby trip of 1m4f last year, Cecil declined to make any immediate commitment to Epsom.
He said: "I have ideas, but we'll think. Once I have talked to the prince and we have worked it out together, then we'll let you know. He is in the Dante. We will see how he comes out of this and what we want to do.
"Whether he will get a mile and a half is another matter. If he was more of a miler, then there is the St James's Palace. We will leave all options open. If he is very well and he ran in the Dante we could easy bring him back a couple of furlongs at Ascot. We want to do the right thing and leave it completely open."
Cecil was reluctant to compare Frankel to his other greats but was in no doubt he belongs in the same bracket.
"It's very difficult to put years together, different generations," he said. "We've seen some fantastic horses in our time. He must come into that category.
"Greatness is important for English racing too, for the public who love their racing to have a champion. We've had it with Arkle, Mill Reef, Sea The Stars and other horses. It's important to have something for everyone to look forward to."
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