No matter your age, he will be remembered as the horse that defined a generation. That may be the way most of us will reflect back on the winning whirlwind that was Frankel. The champion made it fourteen from fourteen on Saturday when winning the QIPCO Champion Stakes – even with the odds seemingly stacked against him.
Frankel is set to enter the next phase of his career when he stands as a stallion at Prince Khalid’s Banstead Manor Stud in Cheveley, near Newmarket.
It was a day of fond farewells at Ascot in more ways than one. And it was witnessed by Royalty.
The extraordinary four legged machine had crossed the line for the last time at ridiculous odds of 2-11, a length and three-quarters in front of that outstanding French gelding Cirrus des Aigles. Last year’s winner was expected to give cheek on the testing underfoot conditions. But it was all speculation in the end.
After more than 60 years, it was also the end of horseracing on the BBC. The Broadcaster had gone out on a winning note, but conceded defeat to Channel 4.
Owner Prince Khalid Abdulla confirmed that Frankel had run his last race after the greatest horse of modern times made it 14 wins from as many starts in the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
“That is the end of it and he will retire to stud now. Today was important because it was his last race,” said Abdulla. “I knew he was going to win beforehand and I think he would have been further in front of the other horses if it hadn’t been for the ground.”
Abdulla’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, added “Frankel is the greatest and he has brought a whole new generation of people and a wider audience to the sport. He’s the ultimate equine athlete. He’s been important because he has brought the sport from the back pages of the papers to the front pages. Hopefully a new generation of interest he has spawned will be a fantastic legacy
“This was a career-defining performance. He was slowly away but the great thing is that he is so relaxed and he got into a rhythm again. He’s unhustled and relaxed and he had a trouble-free run into the straight. I was confident that he’d put the race to bed and that’s what he did.
“I was worried last night when everybody kept ringing me to tell me how much rain there had been at Ascot but Henry was insistent that he would run. When I walked the track this morning I was more than happy. If you watched the race before (won by Excelebration, who had finished behind Frankel five times) it tells you what kind of class he is. Then to beat Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel at their optimum distance was a star performance.
“Prince Khalid has said that he has run his last race and I think that’s the correct decision in every way. He was a champion at two, three and four and if you haven’t made your mind up about him now then you never will.
“Henry’s re-emergence as a trainer is not just one of the greatest stories in sport but one of the all-time great stories generally. He’s has come back from the Conference to the Champions’ League and Henry is a master of his profession. He is very determined and his handling of this horse is masterly. He was determined to do the right thing by the horse and taught him to settle, which you saw today.
“We must also mention Tom Queally. They have grown into one of the great sporting partnerships.”
Who are we to argue?