Frankel did just what was expected of him by making an impressive winning return to action in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury.

Henry Cecil's colt was unbeaten in four starts as a juvenile and headed into the winter as ante-post favourite for both the Qipco 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby.

Sent off at 1-4 on his seasonal reappearance, Frankel was plenty keen enough in the early stages, with stablemate Picture Editor setting only a sedate pace.

The latter did eventually quicken up and Frankel followed him through with ease under Tom Queally.

As Picture Editor weakened, Excelebration emerged as the main danger to the market leader, and managed to stick with him to the furlong marker.

But Frankel soon stamped his class and picked up in style under hand driving to come home with four lengths in hand.

Queally said: ‘He did it well, I think it's fair to say our pacemaker wasn't quick enough, but he did it nicely.

‘I gave him one or two smacks as he will probably get one the next day. He relaxed fine, dropped the bit and when I gave him a bit of rein he did it well.

‘It's his first run and he's entitled to improve a great deal from that, and if he does he will go to the Guineas with a great chance.’

Victor Chandler cut Frankel from 4-6 to 4-9 for the Qipco-sponsored Guineas on April 30.

Spokesman Charlie McCann said: ‘The customer who had the £550,000 bet at 10-11 on Frankel for the colts' classic this time last week will be on good terms with himself this evening and he looks a good thing to give the great Henry Cecil a third victory in the race.’

Frankel is 4-7 from 4-5 for the first Classic with William Hill, who quote the winter's most talked-about horse at 7-1 to win the Guineas by five lengths or more.

Hills also left the son of Galileo unchanged for the Investec Derby at 4-1 - and make him 5-1 to notch up a Guineas-Derby double last achieved by Sea The Stars in 2009.

Spokeswoman Kate Miller said: ‘Frankel did the necessary today but the manner of his victory suggested that there is plenty left in the locker.’

Ladbrokes make Frankel 1-2 from 5-6 for Guineas, and 7-2 for the Derby. Spokesman David Williams said: ‘It's increasingly difficult to see anything to trouble Frankel in the Guineas. He proved his well-being and as a bookie we think now is the time to start running for cover.’

Cecil added: ‘It was quite nerve wracking as we haven't been able to do any work on the grass at all.

‘It was a trial and the lead horse couldn't go fast enough for him but once he settled, he quickened up well.

‘He's had a good blow. I thought he needed the race beforehand.
‘He was very good and he went down nicely. This was just a case of getting out and you can see if I hadn't have run him, I'd have had a problem getting him right for the Guineas.

‘He goes on softer ground but he's better when it's faster. I'm happy with that. It's very exciting.’