Frankel on golden road to immortality
There could be no more appropriate occasion for a superlative athletic performance than right now, whether on water, road or grass.
Those here yesterday enjoyed all three — before racing, on a big screen opposite the grandstands, the gathering crowd saw Helen Glover and Heather Stanning take gold at Eton Dorney, and later cheered Bradley Wiggins home at Hampton Court.
And in between, they had Frankel, who put up a golden performance to match any with the Olympic tag.
In the case of this magnificent four-year-old it is no longer what he does, more the way he does it.
Yesterday's Sussex Stakes was his 12th victory from as many starts, he is currently the world's highest-rated racehorse, and he started at odds of 1-20. Victory was pretty much assured outside of the most freakish circumstances and no one, bar the highest of punting rollers, was going to get rich backing him.
But still the faithful — a full-house 25,000 of them — poured up the hill, just to be here, and see that.
The thrill was not in the prospect of a close race — Frankel had just three rivals, including his own pacemaker — but in the anticipation of that moment when Tom Queally would ask his mount to engage the now-famous turbo boost that puts his rivals to the sword.
It came around a quarter of a mile from the finish, where the downhill stretch of the home straight starts to flatten out.
He had an eased-down six lengths to spare over Farhh as he became the first horse to win the festival's Group One mile feature twice, in the process taking his top-level tally to eight and his earnings to more than £1.8m.
Queally acknowledged that his own task had not been unduly onerous.
“He had them cooked before halfway. All I had to do was slip him an inch of rein,” he said.
Next time his challenge will be to step up to 10 furlongs and, while that may also be within his comfort zone, it is uncharted territory, with next month's York International the target. The colt is already a 1-4 shot for the contest.
After York, Frankel is likely to have just two more races, a warm-up before his planned finale in the 10-furlong Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.
Frankel’s trainer Sir Henry Cecil, currently undergoing treatment for cancer, was not well enough to travel from Newmarket.
If Frankel was perfect yesterday, so was one aspect of the performance that preceded his.
Olympic Glory, named by his owner Julie Wood with just such a day and result in mind, swooped in the final strides to win the Vintage Stakes.