Dam's Sire: Danehill
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms
Foaled: 11 Feb 2008
Race Record & Factfile
Owner: K Abdullah
Trainer: Sir Henry Cecil
Frankel was unbeaten in all 14 of his starts and is the highest-rated Flat horse in Timeform’s history, a phenomenon of the sport. He matured into a strong, well-made colt, quickly identified on entering the paddock by his four white stockings and the distinctive star on his forehead. He was an imposing two-year-old compared to most of his contemporaries, but he didn't stand out quite so much as an older horse, measuring just over 16 hands. The most striking thing about him was that he was a beautiful mover in his faster paces, with a remarkably extravagant stride that devoured the ground. Frankel was bred by Juddmonte Farms, trained by Sir Henry Cecil, and owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah.
Two-year-old season (2010)
"I’m not going to do the usual thing and say he’s the best I’ve ever trained - that’s alright before they go to stud but there is a long way to go." That was Sir Henry Cecil’s attempt to keep a lid on the expectations entertained for Frankel after his two-year-old season, but rarely had a champion juvenile shown such a high level of form or engendered such anticipation of what he might go on to accomplish.
Frankel’s career began in a maiden on Newmarket’s July course in August of 2008, creating a very good impression in pulling clear of the field with Nathaniel, who would go on to be rated 129 by Timeform at his peak – the margin of victory (half a length) would be the narrowest on Frankel’s record. The early promise was evident but Frankel started to look something special on his second start, in a Doncaster minor event, for all that he was merely beating vastly inferior rivals (Farhh, later rated 131 by Timeform at his peak, having been withdrawn at the start). In unconducive circumstances Frankel recorded an exceptionally good timefigure in pulling 13 lengths clear of his nearest challenger while unextended, already looking Group 1 standard.
Made favourite for both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby after Doncaster, Frankel looked to cement those claims in the Group 3 Royal Lodge Stakes. Sent off 100/30-on against his four rivals, Frankel couldn’t have been more impressive, his rider Tom Queally content to bide his time at the back of the field in the steadily-run first part of the race. When Frankel made his move, however, the race was quickly as good as over, and he pulled ten lengths clear of Klammer, without appearing to take much out of himself. The overall timefigure recorded for the Royal Lodge was nothing out of the ordinary, but sectional times taken for the race by Timeform confirmed the impression that here indeed was a horse of outstanding potential.
If Frankel’s performance in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, his final start as a two-year-old, didn’t quite come up to the highest expectations it was in large part due to the striking impression he had created previously. The Dewhurst was a race billed as "perhaps the greatest two-year-old race ever" because of the presence of three highly promising, unbeaten colts in the field of six. As well as Frankel, who contested the seven-furlong Dewhurst in preference to waiting for the longer Racing Post Trophy the following week, there was Dream Ahead, whose three wins included Group 1 successes in the Prix Morny and the Middle Park Stakes, and Saamidd, an impressive winner of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on his second outing. The race failed to live up to its billing, something of a letdown almost from the start with Dream Ahead edging right from the stalls and hampering both Saamidd and Frankel; in the end, Dream Ahead and Saamidd failed to give anything like their true running, filling the last two places. Frankel, however, was still able to cruise past Roderic O’Connor to score by two and a quarter lengths. Frankel produced a performance - in Timeform’s view - bettered in the Dewhurst this century only by New Approach.
Major races won
Three-year-old season (2011)
Odds-on over the winter for the 2000 Guineas, Frankel reappeared Greenham Stakes at Newbury with the full range of superlatives already heaped on him by the Newmarket gallops watchers in the spring, including one claim that he had outpaced the Cambridge to Newmarket train during one of his workouts! Frankel landed odds of 4/1-on with the minimum of fuss in the Greenham, his intended pacemaker Picture Editor not really fulfilling his role and the exuberant Frankel being committed for home over two furlongs out after the early part of the race had been steadily run.
Frankel’s trainer said before the 2000 Guineas that he wanted the race to be run at a "decent, sensible pace" and that Frankel "could make the running if he has to", although the Free Handicap runner-up Rerouted, in the same ownership, was in the Guineas field in a presumed pacemaking role. In the event, Rerouted would have had to have been champion sprinter material to have performed the job. Frankel had a ground-devouring stride when allowed to use himself and his jockey Tom Queally quickly signalled his intention not to mess about, letting Frankel bowl along from the start. Frankel’s tendency to fight his rider had been a feature of his two-year-old races and, when let loose in the Guineas, he really took the bit between his teeth and seemed at first to be running away. He was quickly out clear, burning up the Rowley Mile at a gallop that, while seemingly comfortable for him once Queally got him to settle, was too strong for his rivals to cope with. Frankel took about 47.5 seconds to reach halfway, setting the sort of pace more likely to be seen in a top sprint than in a championship race over a mile (although not on the same part of the course, he covered the first five furlongs in a time more than a second inside the winner’s time in the Palace House Stakes 35 minutes later).
Understandably, considering the prevailing headwind and the fact that he had nothing to race with, Frankel could not keep up the same pace all the way and the hand-timed sectionals for his last three furlongs were his slowest of the race, apart from the opening furlong from a standing start. Queally glanced back between his legs three furlongs out but, if he was having thoughts that Frankel might have gone off too fast, he would have been reassured by how far in front he was. The 2000 Guineas had been turned into a procession and there wasn’t the slightest threat to Frankel.
Frankel - 2000 Guineas 30th April 2011 - 140 rating— Timeform (@Timeform) March 26, 2020
A performance in which even the huge rating from the bare facts of the result doesn't do him full justice.
It takes something extraordinary to do what he did here.pic.twitter.com/veW7of4uNv
Frankel appeared next at Royal Ascot in the St James’s Palace Stakes, well clear on the ratings after Newmarket, though it was always going to be asking a lot for another effort of that magnitude, and as things panned out he wasn't seen to best effect despite getting the job done. The race was hardly Queally’s finest hour, the gallop strong from the outset, and in essence Frankel was asked for his effort too soon, his burst taking him six lengths clear two furlongs out but also leaving him vulnerable. Approximate sectionals backed up the impression that he was slowing down after that point, and that Zoffany got closest having sat last for much of the way says plenty.
A meeting with Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes was next for Frankel, the eagerly-anticipated ‘Duel on the Downs’ pitching the dominant three-year-old miler against the dominant older miler in a head-to-head. Unfortunately, only a minority of head-to-heads between sporting heavyweights live up to expectations and Frankel vs Canford Cliffs was emphatically one of those that failed to follow the script. It wasn’t even close. Frankel was forced into making his own running but Queally judged the pace perfectly, eventually streaking clear to win by five lengths from a slightly below-par Canford Cliffs, who was later revealed to have suffered an injury that brought about his retirement.
The Sussex Stakes confirmed Frankel’s exceptional status - it was his second performance worth a Timeform rating of 140 or more – and his final start of the campaign would be in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. He produced his best performance on ratings up to that point, a performance bettered by only three horses in Timeform’s history, as he beat Excelebration, who in turn ran to a rating good enough to win any of the ten previous renewals, by an easy four lengths.
Major races won
- Greenham Stakes, Newbury
- 2000 Guineas, Newmarket
- St James’s Palace Stakes, Ascot
- Sussex Stakes, Goodwood
- Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Ascot
Four-year-old season (2012)
Keeping a classic winner in training at four does not always meet with the success it deserves, but such was the impression created by Frankel there seemed to be every prospect that he would progress again and elevate himself to the top of the all-time rankings.
Frankel’s campaign again began at Newbury, this time in the Lockinge, though it was after a scare - he struck into himself on the gallops a month before the race, but a scan revealed that he had not damaged the tendon in his off-fore. Frankel produced top form after seven months off the course and won by five lengths and four from Excelebration and Dubawi Gold, producing an outstanding timefigure.
The Queen Anne, which kicked off Royal Ascot 2012, was only ever going to be about Frankel who, without feeling the full force of the whip, produced a breathtaking performance. The rout settled the question about whether he really was the best there has ever been. Always travelling strongly, Frankel went past Bullet Train with less than three furlongs to go, Excelebration staying in touch with him at first before Tom Queally unleashed Frankel, who burst clear from the two-furlong pole and galloped on remorselessly.
Frankel's superiority over his contemporaries was never better exemplified than by his victory in the Queen Anne Stakes. No horse in Timeform's history would have beaten him that day, and he earned a rating of 147, the highest ever awarded to a Flat horse.
The greatest Flat performance this decade:— Timeform (@Timeform) December 30, 2019
2012 Queen Anne Stakes - Frankel
Not just the best Flat horse of this decade, Frankel was the best of any decade, achieving the highest Flat rating in Timeform’s history in the 2012 Queen Anne Stakes.pic.twitter.com/xLZl09sIBj
Frankel's tearaway style had been a feature of some of his races as a three-year-old, but he became more tractable as a four-year-old. A second success in the Sussex Stakes (beating Farhh by six lengths) was the prelude to him stepping up in trip in the Juddmonte International. Ridden as patiently in the International as in any race since his two-year-old days, Frankel slipped through quickly from the rear soon after the runners had turned into the home straight, steered towards the stand rail by a motionless Queally. Both Farhh and St Nicholas Abbey had also travelled well from an early stage but neither could go with Frankel once he produced his customary burst, certainly value for more than the seven-length margin of victory. As well as recording another performance that merited a Timeform rating of more than 140, Frankel also put up the best time performance of the year.
Frankel’s final appearance, in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, originally looked as if it might prove something of a lap of honour, but it turned out to be anything but, with concerns initially over his participation owing to the rain-softened conditions. Unlike some of Frankel's previous races, in which most of the pleasure had been derived from witnessing a sublime demonstration of his superiority, the Champion Stakes turned into more of a competition than a demonstration. Frankel uncharacteristically missed the break and his pacemaker Bullet Train was quickly restrained, resulting in a steady early pace with Cirrus des Aigles left in front until Frankel recovered the two or three lengths he had lost. Bullet Train pressed on again after three furlongs or so, with Frankel poised in mid-field until making up ground in the straight. He drew almost alongside the leaders Cirrus des Aigles and Nathaniel with two furlongs to run, looking as if he could take it up when his jockey wanted. After edging ahead of Cirrus des Aigles, however, Frankel had to be ridden at the furlong pole to assert himself - a very rare sight for him - and was then pushed along to win, with a little in hand, by a length and three quarters.
The remarkable scenes that followed Frankel's tenth Group 1 win, and ninth in succession, provided a fitting farewell for a horse described afterwards by his trainer as "the best I've ever had, the best I've ever seen, I can't believe that in the history of racing there has ever been better".
Major races won
- Lockinge Stakes, Newbury
- Queen Anne Stakes, Ascot
- Sussex Stakes, Goodwood,
- Juddmonte International, York
- Champion Stakes, Ascot
Frankel at stud
Stands: Banstead Manor Stud
Stud fee: £175,000 (2020)
Frankel is well on his way to emulating his own sire, Galileo. From his first crop he produced Cracksman, twice a winner of the Champion Stakes, and in 2019 twice tasted Classic success with Anapurna in the Oaks and Logician in the St Leger.
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