Thursday, October 18, 2012
Ascot ground could be an unknown for Frankel
LONDON (Reuters) - Frankel, the world's highest-rated racehorse, heads into his probable racecourse farewell "better than ever and still improving" but with concerns over the testing ground at Ascot, trainer Henry Cecil said.
The unbeaten four-year-old, who has amassed more than two million pounds in prize money in a glittering 13-race career and is set to generate millions more as a stallion, faces five rivals on Saturday in the Champion Stakes, part of the richest day in British racing.
"I am pretty confident he will be fine in soft ground but if it's heavy we are in no-man's land. He has never encountered it and, with his action and turn of foot, I cannot be sure that he would appreciate it," Cecil said in a statement released by Champions Day sponsors QIPCO on Thursday.
As in his previous campaigns, Frankel has been in imperious form this season, winning four Group One contests - the Juddmonte International, Sussex Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and Lockinge Stakes - and Cecil said the Galileo colt was spot-on for Saturday.
"I was very pleased with Frankel's final piece of work. He gives the impression that he is better than ever and still improving.
"I could not be happier with him. He seems full of himself and, considering the time of year, he is really good and healthy in his coat. He eats everything put in front of him."
Cecil, 69, believes the apple of his eye has helped him in his own personal battle with stomach cancer.
"I am so lucky to have been allocated Frankel to train. He has been an inspiration and challenge, which I really needed so badly," said 10-time champion trainer Cecil, who has saddled four English Derby winners among numerous Classics victories in a training career that began in 1969.
"Through my illness, I feel that the help from my wife Jane and the determination to be there for Frankel has helped me so much to get through the season."
(Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by Clare Fallon)