/ Racing

All eyes on Frankel in 2011

Updated: Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 16:35

Frankel looks seems poised to be a top-class miler in 2011, while Dream Ahead has the looks and action of a soft ground sprinter
Frankel looks seems poised to be a top-class miler in 2011, while Dream Ahead has the looks and action of a soft ground sprinter

Britain's two-year-old handicapper Matthew Tester believes Frankel is the only horse to watch in 2011 - despite Henry Cecil's star being granted the same mark as Dream Ahead in the European ratings.

Frankel and Dream Ahead were both rated 126 in the end-of-season figures compiled by the head handicappers from across the continent.

This is higher than St Nicholas Abbey (124) last year and level with New Approach, who in 2007 recorded a higher rating than any juvenile since Xaar a decade earlier.

But while Frankel brushed aside a clearly below-par Dream Ahead when recording his fourth and final victory of the campaign in the Dewhurst Stakes, the handicappers felt this was not an improvement in form on his ultra-impressive win in the Royal Lodge at Ascot.

‘Dream Ahead and David Simcock have not got the credit they deserve,’ said Tester.

‘He won his maiden by nine lengths, then on his second start he won a Group One, the Prix Morny.

‘Then in the Middle Park Stakes he beat the Coventry, Gimcrack, Norfolk and Prix Robert Papin winners by nine lengths.

‘If he were trained by a more fashionable trainer and was by a more fashionable stallion than Diktat - if it was Aidan O'Brien and a Galileo, I'm sure people would be wondering if he was the next Sea The Stars.

‘In terms of Frankel, his rating comes from winning the Royal Lodge by 10 lengths over Klammer.

‘Although some people will believe Frankel should be rated higher than Dream Ahead, myself and the rest of the panel were far from convinced that beating Klammer by 10 lengths in the Royal Lodge over a mile was definitely a superior performance to beating Strong Suit and Approve by nine lengths in a Group One sprint.

‘It is not to denigrate Frankel for beating Roderic O'Connor two and a quarter lengths in the Dewhurst, but it isn't possible to give him credit for more than he achieved in the Royal Lodge.

‘Dream Ahead was found to be seriously distressed after the Dewhurst and you have to put a line through that.’

Tester then went on to make clear distinctions between the pair.

‘That's not to say in a year's time I am going to say the same thing,’ he pointed out.

‘I think that we are all hoping Frankel is the real deal.

‘It's not the year of dark horses, it is the year of whether Frankel can live up to our hopes.

‘I think he was pretty well forward last year but I believe there are untapped reservoirs.

‘He is a horse of untapped potential and it's a real possibility he will be a horse in the 130s this time next year. I hope he wins the Guineas.

‘In the case of Dream Ahead, I have a lot of trouble believing he is going to be a 126-rated three-year-old for two reasons. The first is because he seemed to be simply a bigger, stronger horse than the others on the day of the Middle Park.

‘The weight-for-age scale says the average horse has 21lb of improvement in him of physical maturity from the Middle Park to the end of his three-year-old career. I would be surprised if Dream Ahead wasn't ahead of that average curve.

‘I also expect him to be campaigned mostly at sprint distances. I do believe he will get a mile, but I don't believe those races will play to his strengths. If you look back at our three-year-old sprinters, it is very rare to see them achieve a rating of over 120.’

Jessica Harrington's Pathfork and Richard Fahey's Wootton Bassett - singled out by Tester as a viable alternative to Frankel in the 2000 Guineas - were next best on 120, with Casamento and Roderic O'Connor on 119.

The top-rated filly was Mark Prescott's Hooray (116).

Zaminast, Alanza and Handassa were offered as dark horses by Irish handicapper Garry O'Gorman, with Tester keen on Carlton House and Zoowraa.