Frankel Still Has Much To Prove…


Frankel - not Pegasus yet...

It may be true, dear reader, that I have been trying to find reasons to oppose Frankel for some time now. And the reason for this should be clear.

It is not because I don’t like the connections. On the contrary, ‘Sir’ Henry Cecil has always been revered in the virtual pages of this virtual diary.

It is not because I don’t think he’s a very good horse. Clearly, both his unbeaten form figures and the manner of a couple of those wins, suggest he is at least very good.

Rather, my stance is based on available odds and evidence to date. In other words, I didn’t think Frankel was good value at 4/6 on Saturday, nor at 2/1 for the Guineas and 4/1 for the Derby prior to Saturday’s victory in the 2010 Dewhurst Stakes.

And now, having witnessed that performance in the flesh, I think Frankel is abominable value for the 2000 Guineas at a best priced 5/4, and for the Derby at a best of 5/1 and a joke price for William Hill of 7/4. That really is embarrassing for them, whatever their liabilities. That he’s lengthened in the Derby betting is interesting, but still of no interest here at Geegeez Towers.

Let’s take a look at the ‘2yo race of the century’ as it was somewhat inappropriately called.

There were three main contenders, and three horses considered to be complete rags, as a betting market thus, showed:

Frankel                           4/6
Dream Ahead               5/2
Saamidd                         7/1
Roderic O’Connor      25/1
Glor Na Mara               33/1
Waiter’s Dream           50/1

That the second and third favourites were stuffed out of sight, and the fourth and fifth home are pretty reliable yardsticks, strongly implies that Frankel beat three reasonable horses and two sick horses.

Dream Ahead,  in whose basket my eggs were firmly cracked, has subsequently been deemed to have not had sufficient recovery time since his Middle Park demolition job a fortnight prior. This is a reasonable excuse, although he looked magnificent in his coat beforehand.

Saamidd was not believed to have enjoyed the ground. Irrespective of the veracity of that perception, he clearly failed to run his race as he’d previously stuffed Waiter’s Dream by a facile three lengths, eased down.

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The runner-up, Roderic O’Connor, ran a cracker after a break and coming off a moderate maiden win. Although it’s hard to take anything away from him, suggestions that 14/1 is a fair price for the Guineas are faintly ridiculous. He still has it all to prove for me.

Glor Na Mara continues to plug on in top class and deserves an ease in grade to get his confidence back.

This is how the official handicapper put it, and I couldn’t agree more:

I appreciate that Frankel looks to have the makings of a superstar and the way he quickened past his field was impressive. It is reasonable to believe that he would have won by further but for getting tired after racing keenly in the early stages. There is every hope that he will prove to be an exceptional horse.

“However, with Dream Ahead and Saamidd clearly not running to their best, the form of the placed horses makes it impossible to give Frankel an exceptional rating yet.

“The runner-up, Roderic O’Connor, was the winner of one of his two races – a maiden at the Curragh – for which he was provisionally assessed at less than 100 in Ireland. The third horse, Glor Na Mara, is still a maiden after six starts. He had a rating in Ireland of 112 before the race and had recently been disappointing. The fourth horse, Waiter’s Dream, was rated 109 for finishing third behind Saamidd last time.

“Having talked it over with the Irish Senior Handicapper, Garry O’Gorman, we have agreed to raise the ratings of all the placed horses. Roderic O’Connor will be rated 118. Glor Na Mara will be raised to 113, as will Waiter’s Dream.

“Frankel’s rating goes up too, from 123 before the race to 124 and it may go higher still. On the solid form of beating Roderic O’Connor by two and a quarter lengths and Glor Na Mara by five, this is the appropriate rating for the achievement rather than for the expectation of better yet to come.

“However, there is the possibility that the figures for Frankel’s win in the Royal Lodge Stakes may be raised if the placed horses perform well in the coming weeks.

“For comparison, this century only New Approach (126) has been rated higher for winning the Dewhurst Stakes. He won the 2007 renewal. The placed horses that day were the previously unbeaten Group-race winner Fast Company, Raven’s Pass who had won the Solario Stakes by seven lengths and Rio De La Plata who had already won Group 1 and Group 2 races. There were three other Group 1 or Group 2 winners further back in that field.

“We did not get the “two-year-old race of the century” but we did get an exciting winner. For Saamidd it appears that the ground was a major factor in his disappointing run. The double that Dream Ahead was attempting, of winning the Middle Park and then the Dewhurst, has not been achieved since 1982 and I think we saw on Saturday why that is such a tough task. There will be other great days for both of them.


The time was fast in relation to the Group 2 for older horses run just prior to the Dewhurst. But it was slow in relation to the handicap run on Friday, to the tune of 1.6 seconds (or eight lengths).

Of course, it is possible that there was some easing in the ground overnight due to the rain that fell Saturday morning, but still I’m not sure this was fast enough to win a Guineas.

Moreover, there are very few horses whose best two year old form is good enough to win a Guineas. In other words, Frankel will have to improve physically and in terms of ability to win next May. He may well be capable of doing this, and it does feel a little spiteful picking holes in an unbeaten colt. But… at 5/4 we simply HAVE to look elsewhere.

The media have grabbed hold of this one, and with the ‘Sir’ Henry angle giving them guaranteed back page copy, he’s certain to be shorter than his true odds.

The final nail in this particular coffin is this, the fate of the favourite in the 2000 Guineas in recent years:

2010 – St Nicholas Abbey – Evens Fav – 6th (winner was 33/1)
2009 – Delegator – 3/1 Fav – 2nd (winner was 8/1)
2008 – New Approach – 11/8 Fav – 2nd (judged best Dewhurst winner of last decade…) (winner was 11/1)
2007 – Adagio – 4/1 Fav – 12th (winner was 25/1)
2006 – George Washington – 6/4 Fav – WON
2005 – Dubawi – 11/8 Fav – 5th (winner was 13/2)
2004 – One Cool Cat – 15/8 Fav – 13th (winner was 11/2)
2003 – Hold That Tiger – 4/1 Fav – 17th (winner was 9/2)
2002 – Hawk Wing – 6/4 Fav – 2nd (winner was 9/1)
2001 – Tobougg – 4/1 Fav – 9th (winner was 11/1)
2000 – Giant’s Causeway – 7/2 Fav – 2nd (winner was 13/2)

There is clearly little point in backing a horse at just better than even money in the context of the above.

My value pick, Casamento, is scheduled to race on Saturday in the Racing Post Trophy, for which he is the 11/4 favourite currently. His 16/1 quote (as low as 10’s in places) is something that will give ante-post punters much more reason for cheer over the winter, especially if – as expected – he does the biz on the weekend.


Talking of the weekend, the first Narrowing The Field selections will be running in the Persian War Hurdle this Saturday.

I’ve been flicking through the 2010/11 manual this morning, and it’s hugely impressive. It runs to 191 pages, none of which is waffle. If that sounds daunting, then it isn’t especially, because it is broken down race by race. There’s a race per page, and that means there are 147 races covered between now and next May.

As well as the manual, Ben’s excellent service also includes an update line where he’ll provide you with the selections for each of the races. And… he’s bundling in loads of other goodies throughout the season as well. This is one of just two National Hunt season-specific services I plan to use this Winter, and I highly recommend you take a look too.

Check out Ben’s NTF service here.


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