WOW. The initial impression after Frankel’s amazing all-the-way romp in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas – a performance that had even a non-racing mate in raptures.
And there is nothing since to have changed the opinion that Frankel deserves superstar status, with his jockey Tom Queally also deserving an abundance of credit for a complicated ride.
In racing are we are forever moaning, criticising or lambasting a trainer, jockey or some daft rule so how refreshing this week to be able to simply eulogise over a splendid performance and a Guineas victory that leaps out as the most impressive of recent times.
About the only performance that comes near to my mind was Zafonic in 1993 – I was 10 at the time, so cannot really comment on what went before – but surely there can have been fewer Guineas winners ever as impressive as Henry Cecil’s three-year-old.
It could very well be like Sea The Stars all over again, not in terms of a Guineas/Derby winner but in terms of having a racing great to take us through the season.
From pillar to post – soon clear and keeping up a relentless gallop right the way to the line – Frankel’s Guineas win was amazing and odds of 1-2 now look outstanding value though it’s always easy to say that afterwards.
But while the horse is obviously the superstar here – arguments that a draw advantage or surprise tactics exaggerated his authority bear no weight at all with me – there is no doubt in my mind that jockey Queally also deserves huge credit for keeping things uncomplicated out in front.
If only more others did do more often.
The plan in the Guineas to some degree was obviously to hold Frankel up – hence the presence of 66-1 pacemaker Rerouted – wearing Frankel’s same colours.
And there are various reasons for connections choosing to hold a horse up rather than make the running.
Firstly, going at it from the front is often to as doing it the hard way, or doing the donkey work as you are there to be shot at and can often be running into a headwind or some other distracting weather element.
And secondly, many horses if sent to the front simply pull too hard, fail to get in a rhythm and can often blow their chance that way.
Thirdly, it is probably fair to say there is a certain style element to it – that it looks better coming from last to first – but who cares about that and for anyone who backed Frankel Queally’s tactics were superb.
This horse’s natural cruising speed is simply mind-blowing and after getting an electric start from the gates, Frankel’s sheer pace soon saw him front after half a furlong and in a nutshell his pacemaker Rerouted just couldn’t live with him.
But many jockeys in this circumstance would still have attempted to hold Frankel back – if that had have been the plan – which often annoys punters as a battle between horse and rider then ensues with the horse more often than not pulling too hard in a bid to go faster and nine times out of 10 using up all its energy and thus extremely weak in the finish.
It is without doubt one of the best in-running laying tactics – lay a horse that is being restrained by its jockey against its own wishes – fighting for its head is the obvious sign – as the animal involved will have nothing left for the finish and will nearly always not win.
But rather than risk a scenario like that one, Queally was incredibly sensible and simply saying ‘go on then’ and allowed the natural speedster Frankel to make his own running.
Okay, so the Irish jockey is lucky to have not only a freak of a horse but also one with an amazing temperament and there was no chance of Frankel then going off way too fast but nonetheless it was a smart tactic from the 26-year-old who is impressing more and more each week he rides.
Had he opted to pull Frankel back the horse might well have fought him and lost valuable energy, not to mention there could have been the possibility of the Henry Cecil-trained start of getting boxed in. Instead, the end result was Frankel being about six lengths clear by half way and he clearly had not gone off too fast as the three-year old still had plenty left in the tank to fend off runner-up Dubawi Gold with six lengths still the margin of victory at the line. It was a performance that had to be seen to be believed and there is no doubting that Frankel is out of the very top drawer and highly likely to remain unbeaten all year.
Top drawer also though was his jockey and if only more others took a leaf from T P Queally’s book.