On Saturday afternoon, we saw the final act in one of racing’s great equine plays: arguably Frankel’s strongest challenge, as he lined up against the heavy ground machine, Cirrus des Aigles, and two other Group 1 winners, Nathaniel and Pastorius.
He missed the break; his pacemaker wasn’t able to do the required job; the ground may not have been ideal; the trip may also have been a touch on the long side. No matter, for Frankel was the equal – no, superior – of all of those impediments, and forged clear to win by a cosy enough length and three quarters.
As has been trumpeted from a thousand media outlets, Frankel is one of the best, if not the best, in the deep and illustrious history of the race horse breed.
So, desperate for an angle which hadn’t already been mined elsewhere (heck, for all I know, it has, but I haven’t seen it!), and in a sort of Back To The Future (starring Sir Henry as Doc; Tom Queally as Marty McFly; and Frankel as the deLorean), I trawled through the archives to bring you two facets of Frankel that you may not have been aware of.
The first is courtesy of my racing mate, Rob Pacitto, and is a look at the Group 1 performances of runners in Frankel’s races. The second looks at the stud record of the best racehorses in history to see if the reported £100,000 stallion fee for a mating with Frankel might be good value.
Let’s start by looking back at Frankel’s races and the Group 1 winning (and (placing in brackets, where no Group 1 winner in the race)) horses he vanquished.
In all but two of his fourteen races, he beat prior or subsequent Group 1 winners. In the other two contests, he beat Rainbow Springs, who went on to be third in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac; and more recently, he beat Farrh, a FIVE time Group 1 placed horse.
Over the course of his fourteen races, Frankel has beaten 63 subsequent race winners, and his aggregate winning margin is 76.25 lengths. That’s an average of nearly five and a half lengths per race.
Even in his ten wins in Group 1 company, he’s won by an aggregate of 48.75 lengths, for an average of nigh on five lengths per win.
With the exception of the Champion Stakes on Saturday, and the Juddmonte International before that, he’s scared off most of the opposition this season.
Excelebration, the most beaten-up horse by Frankel (with the exception of his pace maker, Bullet Train), has shown the merit of the Big F by winning his two races since he gave up trying to beat Frankel.
Both were Group 1’s, and both were emphatic victories in their own right.
Frankel will now head to Juddmonte Farms, his owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s breeding operation, ready for a 2013 stallion career.
Frankel’s best ever rating, according to Timeform at least, was 147, achieved when winning the Juddmonte International at York by seven lengths from Farrh.
That puts him in an exclusive club, the 140+ Club, which comprises just fourteen horses in the 64 year history of the Timeform ratings.
In an act of pure folly, and in attempting to fathom whether those with deep pockets and talented broodmares will get value for their reported £100,000 stud fee, I looked back at the other thirteen members of the 140+ Club to see how they fared in the breeding sheds.
Below they are listed with (the majority, at least, of) their Grade / Group 1 progeny.
The superstars of the group at stud were undoubtedly Ribot, Mill Reef, and Vaguely Noble; and, to a lesser degree, Dancing Brave (who was the benefactor of the burgeoning Japanese racing/breeding industry at the time of his stallion career).
Ribot sired at least nine Group or Grade 1 winners, and was a prolific influence for stamina, as the ‘daddy’ to no fewer than four St Leger winners, as well as an Arc champ, and various European Oaks and Derby winners, as well as a couple of multiple G1 Stakes winners in North America.
Mill Reef recovered from that pioneering leg operation to win again on the track and to leave a legacy which included Derby winners, Shirley Heights and Reference Point; as well as the inaugural Breeders Cup Turf winner, Lashkari; and, a couple of Guineas winners as well as numerous other Grade/Group 1 champs.
Vaguely Noble introduced the world to one of the great race mares, Dahlia, a winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes twice, and a mare who won Group or Grade 1 races in England, Ireland, France, USA and Canada during her racing career.
He also sired 1976 Derby winner, Empery, and 1991 Oaks winner, Jet Ski Lady, testimony to his longevity in the sheds.
At the other end of the spectrum, Brigadier Gerard – the horse with whom Frankel is most often compared in ‘greatest ever’ debates – was a bit of a clunker, with ‘just’ a solitary St Leger winner to his name.
Despite a couple of juvenile champions and a Kentucky Derby winner, from almost 400 live foals, Tudor Minstrel was also fairly moderate at stud.
Sea-Bird II, the previously highest rated racehorse on Timeform’s card, was disappointing too. Despite siring Sea Pigeon, the dual Champion Hurdle and Chester Cup winner, and also Ebor winner; and Allez France, an Arc winner, there was little Grade/Group 1 strength in depth to his progeny.
Windy City, rated 142, was next to useless as a stallion, with just a single Grade 1 winner from almost 150 live foals.
Those for whom the jury is out include Shergar (kidnapped during his first season at stud, having sired an Irish St Leger winner); Dubai Millennium (died of grass sickness after a single season at stud, but still responsible for Dubawi); and, Harbinger and Sea The Stars, both of whom will be sending their first crops racing next season (the former primarily in Japan, where he stands).
The Group/Grade 1 breeding record of these phenomena of the racing world is below, and it now remains to be seen to where in that list Frankel will find his way.
One thing is for sure: despite the mixed record of the very best horses at stud, the Juddmonte Farms phone will be white hot with every eligible equine lass forming an orderly queue for two feisty minutes in the company of the Big F (and I’m sure that’s true in every sense of the phrase!)
Sea Bird (Timeform 145)
– Sea Pigeon (Chester Cup x2, Ebor, Champion
– Allez France (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, 1974)
– Little Current (Preakness & Belmont Stakes,
Brigadier Gerard (144)
– Light Cavalry (St Leger, 1980)
Tudor Minstrel (144)
– Tomy Lee (Kentucky Derby)
– Tudor Melody (British Champion 2yo, 1958)
– Sing Sing (British Champion 2yo, 1959)
– Abermaid (1000 Guineas, 1962),
– Even Star (Irish 1000 Guineas, 1957)
– Welsh Rake (1963 Queen Anne Stakes)
– Zahedan (1965 National Stakes)
– Molvedo (Premio Vittorio di Capua x2)
– Prince Royal (Gran Premio di Milano, 1964; Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, 1964)
– Ragusa (St Leger, 1963; Irish Derby, 1963; Diamond Stakes, 1963; Eclipse, 1964)
– Long Look (Oaks, 1965)
– Ribocco (Racing Post Trophy, 1966; Irish Derby, 1967; St Leger, 1967)
– Ribero (Irish Derby, 1968; St Leger, 1968)
– Boucher (St Leger, 1972)
– Tom Rolfe (Preakness Stakes, 1965)
– Arts and Letters (Belmont Stakes, 1969; Blue Grass Stakes, 1968; Travers Stakes, 1969; Metropolitan Handicap, 1969; Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1969; Woodward Stakes, 1969)
Windy City (142)
– Blue Norther (Kentucky Oaks, 1964)
Mill Reef (141)
– Shirley Heights (Derby, 1978)
– Acamas (French Derby, 1978)
– Reference Point (Derby, 1987)
– Ibn Bey (Gran Premio d’Italia, 1987; Europa
Preis, 1989; Grosser Preis der Berliner Bank, 1990;
Irish St Leger, 1990; 2nd BC Classic, 1990; 2nd
Coronation Cup, 1990)
– Lashkari (Breeders Cup Turf, 1984)
– Creator (Prix Ganay, 1990; Prix d’Ispahan,
– Star Lift (Prix Royal-Oak, 1988)
– Milligram (QE II Stakes, 1987)
– King Of Clubs (Premio Emilio Turati, 1985)
– Diamond Shoal (Gran Premio di Milano, 1983;
Champion older horse Italy, France, Britain, 1983)
– Doyoun (2000 Guineas, 1988)
– Behera (Prix Saint-Alary, 1989; Champion 3yo
– Wassl (Irish 2000 Guineas, 1983)
– Entitled (Champion Irish 3yo, 1987)
Dancing Brave (140)
– Commander In Chief (Derby, 1993)
– Wemyss Bight (Irish Oaks, 1993)
– White Muzzle (Derby Italiano, 1993)
– Cherokee Rose (Haydock Sprint Cup, 1995; Prix
Maurice de Gheest, 1995)
– Ivanka (Fillies Mile, 1992)
– Kyoei March (Oka Sho (Jpn), 1997)
– King Halo (Takamatunomiya Kinen, 2000)
– T.M. Ocean (Champion 2yo filly Japan 2000; 3yo
filly Japan, 2001)
– Erimo Chic (Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative
Dubai Millennium (140) (only one crop)
– Dubawi (National Stakes, 2004; Irish 2000 Guineas, 2005; Prix Jaques le Marois, 2005)
Harbinger (140) (standing in Japan, first crop due 2013)
Sea The Stars (140) (first crop 2013)
Shergar (140) (kidnapped after one season at stud)
– Authaal (Irish St Leger, 1986)
Vaguely Noble (140)
– Dahlia (DC International, 1973; Diamond Stakes, 1973; Irish Oaks, 1973; Prix Saint-Alary, 1973; Canadian International, 1974; Man O’War Stakes, 1974; B&H Gold Cup, 1974; Diamond Stakes, 1974; Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, 1974; B&H Gold Cup, 1975; Hollywood Invitational, 1976)
– El Cuite (won Prix Royal-Oak, Gran Premio d’ Italia)
– Empery (Derby, 1976)
– Estrapade (Arlington Million, 1986; Oak Tree Stakes, 1986)
– Exceller (Grand Prix de Paris, 1976; Prix Royal-Oak, 1976; Coronation Cup, 1977; Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, 1977; Canadian International Stakes, 1977; Hollywood Gold Cup, 1978; Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap, 1978; Oak Tree Stakes, 1978; Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1978)
– Friendswood (Gran Premio del Jockey Club, 1982; Premio Lydia Tesio, 1982)
– Jet Ski Lady (Oaks, 1991)
– Lemhi Gold (Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1982; Marlboro Cup, 1982; Sword Dancer Handicap, 1982)