Frankel's Final Race Will Not Answer Greatest-Ever Questions

Richard SmithContributor IIISeptember 3, 2012

YORK, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22:  Tom Queally smiles after riding Frankel to victory in  The Juddmonte International Stakes at York racecourse on August 22, 2012 in York, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Following the news that Frankel will bypass Europe’s most prestigious race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in favour of the Champion Stakes at Ascot and a tilt at the Breeders Cup Classic is not an option, will we ever fully understand just how good this horse actually is or was?

The highest rated horse in the world, Frankel has been taken to the racecourse on 13 occasions in his racing career, which is now in its third season, and has found the winners enclosure every time in varying degrees on demolition over his opponents.

His latest outing came in the Group One, International Stakes at York, England, where for the first time, he raced and won over a distance of ten furlongs, the furthest he had ever raced.

Not only did he win that race by seven lengths, he astonished onlookers by his sheer brilliance and speed leaving only very few who were still to be convinced that this is the greatest racehorse ever.

The ten furlong trip brought about further improvement from the four year old and led to immediate speculation that a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe could be on the cards as it was obvious that the 12 furlong trip at Longchamp would not present Frankel with any sort of problem.

Bookmakers in the UK were very quick off the mark and offered Frankel at odds of 1/3 (-300) to win "The Arc" and racing fans in Europe got carried away in the belief that the Sir Henry Cecil trained horse was about to earn a reputation that would take him beyond legendary status.

In a dream world, Frankel would have race at Longchamp on Sunday 7th October; put the "cream of European thoroughbred racing to the sword" before heading across the Atlantic to announcing himself to the Americans at the Breeders Cup meeting, where up to now, he is just another highly rated European horse.

A Breeders Cup win would have confirmed Frankel's status on a global scale, upon which he could be retire to stud, charging almost impossible to meet stud fees at one of his owner's, Khalid Abdullah’s, Juddmonte stud farms.

Instead, Frankel will definitely be sticking with the original plan and his next and final run will be in the Qipco Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs at Ascot on 20th October—a race that will undoubtedly bring down the curtain on his racing career.

The Champion Stakes is now Britain’s richest race with a prize fund of £1.3 m and should Frankel win, for which the odds of 1/10 (-1000) tell us he surely will, he will break the European record of nine consecutive wins at Group level.

There will be plenty of disappointment that Frankel will not contest the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or Breeders Cup Classic but at least Ascot racecourse can take full advantage by staging his final race in front of a record audience.

As to the original question as to how good Frankel actually is, it should remain a matter of personal opinion.

On British and European shores, he will undoubtedly be regarded as the greatest of all time by most but some skeptics will of course argue that he was the greatest over the distance of one mile and possibly 10 furlongs but to put the question out of unreasonable doubt, he would have to prevail on the International stage and demolition jobs in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders Cup Classic would do just that.

There's no taking away what this son of Galileo has achieved and you won't hear an argument from this writer questioning Frankel's greatness but it would have been nice to see him go out in breathtaking fashion rather than the routine fashion fans in the UK have become accustomed to at Ascot on 20th October.