Racing’s much needed wonderhorse Frankel maintained his unbeaten record with a majestic victory on Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Britain’s richest ever race day.
The world’s top-rated thoroughbred was in imperious form, spreadeagling a top-class field to win by four lengths from Excelebration with the French challenger Immortal Verse a distant third.
It was the ninth victory in a row for the unbeaten Frankel, who was given as big a cheer as his hugely popular trainer Henry Cecil when led into the sun-baked Ascot winners’ enclosure.
An increasingly bitter row between jockeys and officials over stringent new whip rules had overshadowed the run-up to the three million pound Champions Day, billed as “the greatest show on turf” which sought to rival the Breeders’ Cup for sheer razzmatazz.
But on the day, it was the superb equine athlete Frankel who grabbed all the headlines with his glorious galloping charge up the Ascot straight that was a joy to watch.
Cecil, bursting with pride over his star’s exploits, said ” He was so very relaxed. It has been a long year. That was my only worry. I am really looking forward to training him next year.”
He had no doubt that the champion miler could step up to a mile and a quarter in 2012. “I think he will be an even better horse next year.”
Jockey Tom Queally, beaming from ear to ear, said “I always enjoy winners like this. It doesn’t look like he is going to be beaten. I don’t think I will be on a horse like this ever again.”
In earlier action, Fame and Glory returned to the scene of his Ascot Gold Cup triumph to land the Long Distance Cup in impressive style from his old rival Opinion Poll.
“He was electric today,” said jockey Jamie Spencer who took the prize with a bold front-running display that paid rich dividends for the 3-1 second favourite. The Irish colt ran out a comfortable winner by one and quarter lengths from the Godolphin challenger.
Deacon Blues and Johnny Murtagh scorched up the sun-baked Ascot track to land the Champions Sprint Stakes in spectacular fashion from Wizz Kid.
The 5-2 favourite has now won five of his last six starts and overjoyed trainer James Fanshawe had no doubts about his spectacular progress: “He is just amazing and has improved and improved.”
Within half an hour, Murtagh was back in the winners’ enclosure after timing a masterly ride to perfection aboard Dancing Rain in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes.
Willie Haggas, trainer of the Epsom Oaks winner, was quick to lavish praise on Murtagh after his win on the 6-1 chance. “He is a top-class jockey,” he said of the big race specialist.
With thanks to Eurosport.com