Frankel delights Royal Ascot with 11-length romp in Queen Anne
"I'm relieved, as no horse is a certainty," Cecil said. "He is a great horse. He did exactly what I thought he would, but he's still improving."
After overcoming a brief health scare earlier this year, Frankel opened his four-year-old season with a five-length romp in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury May 19. The Queen Anne marked his sixth straight win at the one-mile distance and the son of Galileo has never raced past eight furlongs, but Cecil is leaving his options open.
"He looks like he'll stay a mile and a quarter," the conditioner said, noting that Frankel is pre-entered to both the Group 1 Eclipse and Group 1 Juddmonte at 1 1/4 miles as well as the Group 1 Sussex at a mile. "He'll tell me what to do next, I don't tell him."
With champion Black Caviar still waiting in the wings for Saturday's Group 1 Diamond Jubilee, Cecil wasn't eager to compare his titan to the wonder from down under.
"I don't see how people can judge horses from different generations and countries over different distances and put a horse a pound in front of another, but let everybody judge him for what he has done," the well-respected conditioner said. "You can't compare him with Black Caviar and I'm a great admirer of hers, so let them be champions in their own right. They are good for racing all over the world.
"I've been very fortunate to have good horses and I don't like to compare my champions -- they don't deserve that -- and any winner here is the same. We have to thank the Prince (Abdullah) for keeping him in training for another year, but I would think he'll go to stud this year. It is a question of whether he has three more races or four."
In the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes for three-year-olds, Iraj Parvizi's Most Improved upstaged some of Europe's best three-year-old milers with a dramatic victory Tuesday.
Sent off at 9-1 on the back of an unplaced run in the Group 1 French Derby at Chantilly June 3, the Brian Meehan-trained colt was steered across from his wide draw by Kieren Fallon to stalk the pace and was committed at the top of the straight. Shortly beforehand, Juddmonte's The Nile had broken down on the turn, causing major interference to several in behind including 11-4 favorite Power, but Most Improved was out of trouble in front and after shrugging off the eventual third Gregorian scored by three-quarters of a length from the closing Hermival.
"Today showed we were right about him in the spring and nothing went right in the French Derby," Meehan said. "He's a lovely, big horse with lots of scope who has been a little bit unlucky."
At two, Most Improved followed an August maiden win with a half-length third in the Group 1, seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October. During his early-season preparation this year, the bay colt stirred up excitement for the Group 1 English Two Thousand Guineas, but his preparations for that race went astray when he was injured. When he eventually emerged, it was over the 1 5/16-mile trip of the French Derby and his stamina remained unproven as he was one of the chief sufferers of the melee caused by a swollen field. Most Improved also lost both front shoes after balking several times in that classic and Fallon was keen to avoid a similar scenario here as he guided the bay across to race in open space in third early.
"I broke well in France last time and was up there, but got pushed deep and was murdered halfway up the straight so I ended up having to ease him up," Fallon explained. "He is a lovely big horse and I said to Brian in the spring that he was one of the best movers I've ridden. He's done nothing but improve. My plan was actually to make the running today, as he's a big horse who uses himself well and doesn't do anything in a hurry -- he's still getting stronger and learning."
The international sprinting scene is becoming more and more like a global village and Ko Kam Piu's Little Bridge was the latest to cross the divides when winning Tuesday's Group 1 King's Stand Stakes for Hong Kong. While Cape of Good Hope scored for that nation in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee when the Royal Ascot meeting was moved to York during the 2005's redevelopment, Hong Kong had still to enjoy the limelight at this venue.
The Danny Shum-trained six-year-old put that right with a tenacious win in the five-furlong sprint. Sent off at 12-1, Little Bridge, who had yet to win at the top level while racing exclusively at Sha Tin, was always prominent towards the far side and after hitting the front approaching the furlong marker battled to a near one-length success from Bated Breath.
"I planned to come here a half year ago, as I love to come to England and my team have done a really fantastic job," Shum, who was formerly an assistant to Ivan Allan, said. "I don't know how to say how happy I am."
Dawn Approach recorded a gutsy win in a strong-looking renewal of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes on Tuesday's Royal Ascot program. Keen early racing close to the pace, trainer Jim Bolger's homebred who was sent off the 7-2 second favorite put his race-hardening to full use after hitting the front with 1 1/2 furlongs remaining and duly held Olympic Glory to score by three-quarters of a length.
"He's as good as I've had," said Bolger, who also steered Dawn Approach's sire New Approach and Teofilo through unbeaten campaigns as juveniles. "He has everything. He has pace, he has stamina, he has the looks and he has the temperament. There are no holes in this fellow."
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