/ Racing

Frankel the focus of International attention at York

Updated: Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 12:15 | Comments

Frankel fans will be hoping Henry Cecil's star can defy the poor record of odds-on favourites in the International - 11 of the 17 runners in this price range have been turned over
Frankel fans will be hoping Henry Cecil's star can defy the poor record of odds-on favourites in the International - 11 of the 17 runners in this price range have been turned over

Frankel's every move has become significant, but there will be added poignancy to his appearance in Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York.

The world's champion racehorse will be stepping up to 10 furlongs for the first time on the Knavesmire in a bid to retain a race long sponsored by his owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.

And it could see a welcome return to the track for Frankel's much-loved trainer Henry Cecil, who has been receiving ongoing treatment for cancer and has not wanted to pick up other infections.

Cecil has already won the International for Abdullah, when Twice Over led home Midday for a famous one-two 12 months ago.

But even with the former lining up again, all eyes will be on one animal on what could be the penultimate start of a glittering career.

Cecil said: "Frankel seems in good order at the moment leading into the Juddmonte.

"I do not think the distance is going to be a problem although we are going into unknown territory."

The owner's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe, who is in his first year as chairman of the York Race Committee, said: "Bringing Frankel to the Juddmonte has huge symbolic and emotional attachments to it.

"This will be Prince Khalid's 22nd year of sponsoring the Juddmonte and Frankel is third-generation Juddmonte bred.

"Of course, this horse is his flagship horse. He's been the most extraordinary equine athlete that I've ever seen.

"This is a very special meeting for us."

Frankel's most recent start came when brushing aside Farhh to retain the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood for his 12th consecutive victory.

Grimthorpe said: "He came out of Goodwood really well and didn't have too tough a time there.

"He's stepping up to 10 furlongs and a bit, so that will be a new challenge for him and we're really excited by it.

"I'd like to think so (that he will be as good over 10 furlongs) - everything he has shown, especially in his races, shows that he should be well capable of staying 10 furlongs.

"He settles well in his races now and that gives us confidence he can go this extra step.

"Tom (Queally) and him now have a great relationship, they know each other and respect each other, which, I think, is as important as anything.

"York is a very fair track and the best horse will win."

Seven-year-old Twice Over, reunited with Ian Mongan after their International success in 2011, showed more certain signs of life when third in the Coral-Eclipse.

Cecil added: "Twice Over is fresh and well, in good form and deserves to take his chance.

"I do not expect him to beat Frankel but one never knows and if he gets placed it will help him earn his keep, as well as enhance his Group status."

Farhh might have been well beaten by Frankel in the Sussex, but he was only just beaten over this distance by Nathaniel in the Eclipse.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: "The Coral-Eclipse was a hard race for him and I don't think he ran as well there (Goodwood) as he did at Sandown.

"I put that down to the trip - we've established that a mile and a quarter is a good trip for him."

Connections have warned that Farhh will only run if the ground is suitable.

Sri Putra was never a factor in the Eclipse, but enjoyed a confidence-boosting course-and-distance victory in the York Stakes at the end of July.

"He's a very good horse and has run some great races in defeat at the highest level," said trainer Roger Varian.

"He's always looked up to winning a good, solid Group Two - he's been placed at Group One level.

"One of the keys to him his fast ground, which he should get at York."

Joseph O'Brien is excited about being involved in the race and his mount, St Nicholas Abbey, is a new threat to Frankel.

But whereas Frankel is stepping up in trip for the first time, St Nicholas Abbey's best form is over a mile and a half.

O'Brien does not expect the distance to be a problem, though.

"It doesn't get much better than this, taking on Frankel with a horse like St Nicholas Abbey," said O'Brien.

"He ran well at Ascot last time and has been in good form at home.

"The drop in trip is a question mark for some, but I don't see it being too much of a problem. I've never thought of a mile and a quarter being a problem for him as he's got so much speed.

"When he won the Breeders' Cup Turf, he did it with a great turn of foot and 10 furlongs with a bit of nice ground should be right up his street. The nice ground is what we've been waiting for."

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