Abdullah wanted to remember the late American trainer Bobby Frankel, who had helped provide him with many cherished days on the racecourse, with a horse of above-average ability. This was potentially that horse and so the exuberant colt who was always in a hurry to do things now had a name. Cecil adopted a patient approach but his new recruit had already created a buzz with some of his early spins on the gallops before making his debut over a mile at Newmarket on August 13, Sent off the favourite, Queally, who was to ride him in all his races, nursed him to the front in the final furlong and he won by half a length from another debutant called Nathaniel.
It was not the most sensational of starts, hardly the stuff of The Greatest Ever, but encouraging enough. What we did not now at the time was that the runner-up would subsequently go on to become a top-class horse himself; one who came within a nose of being a dual King George winner and who would later sire one the aformentioned Enable. Frankel was more extravagant in his next two races. He won a conditions event at Doncaster by 13 lengths his task was simplified when Farhh was withdrawn at the start and then the Group Two Royal Lodge at Ascot by ten lengths.
Oh, and one day he raced a train that was ran parallel to the gallops at Newmarket and beat that, too, although to be fair the train was carrying lots of passengers and Frankel was carrying only one. That adventure made the front page of the Racing Post. His display in the Guineas, in particular, marked him out as something out of the ordinary. Rerouted was in the Classic to act as a pacemaker for him but Cecil was keen to let Frankel use his mighty stride and the instructions to Queally were not to disappoint him.
What followed was simply astonishing. By halfway, Frankel was 15 lengths clear and setting fractions that it seemed impossible to maintain. Martin Dwyer was riding in the race and would say later that he assumed that the leader was the pacemaker, not the favourite.
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Frankel did begin to get a little weary in the final furlong but, by then, everyone on the Rowley Mile had risen as one to salute him. His winning distance was six lengths — the biggest margin since Tudor Minstrel — but it was the manner of the way he ripped the field apart that was so breathtaking. It was beauty and bullying rolled into one.
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His follow-up win at Royal Ascot, when he overcame dubious tactics to prevail narrowly, was unsatisfactory but then came a stunning five-length defeat of the year older Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. It was billed as the Duel On The Downs but when Frankel was invited to engage top gear he accelerated clear of his formidable foe in a matter of strides, albeit the latter was subsequently found to have hurt himself. Frankel was then rested until signing off for the year at the inaugural Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot. Three-year-old colts blessed with such brilliance are routinely retired to the breeding sheds but Prince Khalid resisted and gave his blessing to Frankel race on as a four-year-old.
It transpired that Frankel was unscathed and those requiring proof did not have to wait long as he romped home by five lengths on his return in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
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By now, he also had the services of a new pacemaker in Bullet Train, his three-parts brother who accompanied him at home and on the gallops. The Queen Anne at Royal Ascot looked a formality for him and the bookmakers had all but thrown in the white towel, quoting him at Instead, there was betting on the margin of his victory and those who had a punt on the outlandish were rewarded as Frankel powered to an astonishing length success. Despite the softish ground, he averaged 36mph throughout. His third-last furlong of Frankel's second Sussex Stakes success, when he clocked 43mph, was a similar procession before his connections upped him in distance for his final two races.
Those who feared his powers may be blunted by the extra yardage need not have worried. It merely gave us even more time to admire him.
He was a dazzling seven-length of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and then came a fitting farewell on Champions Day, when he overcame a sluggish start to beat French warrior Cirrus Des Aigles by a length and three quarters. It was not the wide-margin victory some expected, but the runner-up had won a vintage renewal of the race 12 months earlier and was racing on the soft ground he relished. He was a worthy rival at the peak of his powers who would himself end his career with seven Group One wins. The number crunchers awarded Frankel a figure of , making him their champion.
His breeding and connections helped; so did his massive stride, which was assessed at 24 feet when the average is between feet. In addition to his big feet, it would be no surprise if he had an above-average size heart and spleen. He was able to maintain between and strides per minute in races and relished being the leader of the pack, whether at home or on the racecourse. Cecil trained him with precision; Queally never fluffed his lines; and behind the scenes work rider Shane Featherstonhaugh played his part in keping the whels oiled.
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