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Promising Frankel has great deal to live up to

Despite the present, witless tendency to treat them as characters in search of an author, men such as Frankie Dettori and Henry Cecil could never be adequately prefigured by a script.

Marketing men always promise some kind of Holy Grail — for due consideration, of course —but overlook the paradox of every messianic tradition.

A saviour is constantly sought, constantly imagined, but seldom arrives in the manner expected. And that will never be as true as when you depend on the random agency of horses.

Take the emergence of this coruscating animal, Frankel. The “narrative” could scarcely be richer, or more satisfying. And, in fairness, the sense of destiny sustaining his rise owes a good deal to the prescience of those who christened him.

Anyone who witnessed his breathtaking performance at Ascot on Saturday can now corroborate Cecil's instinct that his career could become a suitable memento to the great Bobby Frankel.

But our wonder, at the young colt's sheer ability, has emotional dimensions that take us to the margins of both credulity and dignity.

Can you sensibly believe that Frankel, a mere thoroughbred, is separated from his contemporaries not just by talent, but by fate?

How, moreover, can you decently address the ghastly coincidence that his owner's two principal trainers, either side of the Atlantic, were simultaneously attacked by the same, deadly disease?

Frankel, who won so many big races for Khaled Abdullah in the United States, died last November. Cecil, meanwhile, has matched private fortitude with a professional revival so complete that his many admirers must now be careful that their sentimental regard is not infected by condescension.

The time has come, in other words, once again to view Warren Place as exactly where you should expect to find the hot favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and Derby.

If you treat it as a miracle, after all, then so might those investing big money at the yearling sales this autumn.

Wherever romance stops or starts, it never owes much to choreography or contrivance. There are good, bad and indifferent aspects to the replacement, next year, of a meeting dominated on Saturday by these two great romantic leads of the British Turf, Cecil and Dettori.

Essentially, however, the reach of any racing story will depend on its own, organic appeal.

As for the cognoscenti, they might well be asking themselves whether it can be a coincidence that the same track — its racing surface mistrusted by many pundits — should have hosted Frankel's runaway success so soon after a very similar display by Harbinger.

The cold reality is that Frankel has yet to meet a top-class rival, but he coasted round the field on Saturday with such mechanical ease that he will surely be equal to stiffer tasks — starting, in all likelihood, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket next month.

Opposition there may include Saamidd, the Champagne Stakes winner, whose stable's belated return to the big time (on these shores, at any rate) was the cornerstone of Dettori's euphoric 217-1 four-timer on the 14th anniversary of his Magnificent Seven.

Belfast Telegraph


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