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Thu Apr 24 18:45:14 SAST 2014

Frankel: R1.3bn on four legs

Mike Moon | 17 August, 2012 06:100 Comments

A RED carpet was laid out before Frankel's stable, but the superstar refused to set foot on the thing.

The four-year-old colt - hailed by some as the greatest racehorse ever - looked at that scarlet pile of Belgotex fouling up his doorstep and at the assembled crowd of grinning gits with pointed cameras and said: "I'll not be part of this demeaning celebrity culture, thank you very much".

Actually, if he had uttered those words he would be the most amazing of all horses. But his meaning was plain nonetheless: nay (sorry, neigh) to the marketing morons.

The carpet silliness was a couple of weeks ago after Frankel, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, won the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in England. The victory took his unbeaten run to 12 races and prompted Timeform, a bunch of stats anoraks, to push his rating to 147.

This makes Frankel theoretically the best racehorse ever - or at least since 1948, when the ratings were introduced.

It puts him above even legendary Sea-Bird and Brigadier Gerard.

This might seem sacrilege to some old-timers, yet many who saw those great horses perform in the 1960s and 1970s do indeed rate Frankel alongside them.

It's neither the number of wins nor the huge winning margins that distinguish him, but the glory of his galloping action.

Very good horses among his rivals seem to have to take two strides to his one.

Opposition jockeys are seen scrubbing away at their horses while Frankel's pilot, one Tom Queally, sits barely moving as the big bay strides effortlessly clear on his four white feet, ears pricked to the cheers of adoring crowds. One quibble raised about Frankel's stratospheric rating is that he's never raced beyond a mile (1.6km to us) and didn't contest classics such as the Epsom Derby.

Well, the big test is at hand. Next week at York, on a stretch of turf known as the Knavesmire, Frankel will run over one mile two-and-a-half furlongs (1.9km to us) in the Juddmonte International.

Seeing as Prince Khalid's organisation sponsors the race, Frankel was always going to grace it with his presence.

Despite the step up in trip, he's odds-on to win.

But, just in case there are stamina shortcomings, plenty of credible challengers are taking their chances in the field, including St Nicholas Abbey, winner of four Grade 1 contests.

By contrast, over the Sussex Stakes mile there were only three rivals - most trainers not seeing any point in having their horses horribly thrashed, humiliated and possibly psychologically damaged.

Frankel will run a few more races before being retired to an even more lucrative career at stud.

A bloodstock agency has "conservatively" estimated his current market value at £100-million (R1.3-billion to us).

Wednesday's York meeting will be a rare chance to see what a billion bucks on four legs looks like. It'll be on Tellytrack, DStv 232.

Turffontein tomorrow: PA - 11,15 x 8 x 1,8,15 x 1 x 1,7,10 x 4,11 x 2,12 (R72)

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Frankel: R1.3bn on four legs

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