b c Galileo – Kind (Danehill)
Sir Henry Cecil
Frankel is officially the world’s best thoroughbred racehorse. He was named after the legendary American trainer Bobby Frankel, who died of leukaemia in November 2009 at the age of 68. When the process of naming the latest crop of Juddmonte yearlings got underway at the end of 2009, it was decided that the best of them should be named in honour of the champion trainer. The highly rated colt by Galileo out of Kind was selected from over 170 yearlings, and duly registered with the name ‘Frankel’. That this colt would go on to become such a phenomenal racehorse is certainly a fitting tribute.
Frankel’s story began in box number 5 of the foaling unit at Banstead Manor Stud on evening of the 11th February 2008, when Listed winning mare Kind gave birth to a smart bay colt. Present that day was Jim Power, the now-retired former Stud Groom at Banstead. “It was a good, straightforward foaling,” remembers Jim. “Kind is a typical Juddmonte mare from a proper Juddmonte family – and really easy to deal with, which was a plus factor.”
Weighing in at 123lb, the new foal was described as “a quality colt, tall with size and scope”, and it soon became apparent that this colt had something special about him. “He never gave you any problems, but he was always a character,” describes Jim. “He was very inquisitive and attentive to what was going on around him. He was always the first one to come up to you and was the type of foal who would defy you not to take notice of him!”
After a three-month trip to Ireland with his dam (who was again to visit Galileo), Frankel returned to Banstead. Jim continues: “He was a straightforward yet sensitive horse, with a slight air of arrogance about him – really top class racehorses often have that character. I think you have to have character to be a champion, in the same way the best academics, sportsmen or musicians often do. It sets them apart from the norm.”
In mid-July, the time came for Frankel to be weaned. Jim recalls: “He took weaning very well – as with most of horses on the farm, he had already weaned himself really by becoming more and more independent from his mum. On the day of weaning, we gave him his breakfast, the feed went down and he didn’t even realise he’d been weaned!”
Frankel arrived at Juddmonte’s New Abbey Stud on 17th September 2008. Says Rory Mahon, then the Farms Manager for Juddmonte in Ireland: “My rating for him at the time was 7++. He was a well-balanced colt with a very good walk, and he stood on good limbs. His temperament was also very good.”
Frankel spent the next year in Ireland, first in the tranquil surrounds of New Abbey and then at nearby Ferrans Stud. In September 2009, he was broken in, a process which Frankel took to with ease. “He was a quick learner,” recalls Rory. “At the time of his departure to Henry’s in January 2010, he was doing a mile trotting and a mile cantering, and was showing lots of potential – a very sound colt at all times.”
Frankel made his racecourse debut in a Maiden at Newmarket’s July course on 13th August 2010, defeating a horse named Nathaniel in the pouring rain. A 13-length win in a Conditions Stakes at Newbury followed, before Frankel stepped up to stakes company for the first time in the Gr.2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes. As he swept easily around the field to a 10-length victory, he first identified himself as something very special. Frankel finished his two-year-old season with his first Group 1 win, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Frankel proved himself by far the best three-year-old of his generation in 2011. His four Group 1 victories that season included an incredible triumph in the 2000 Guineas – a performance described as “one of the greatest displays on a British racecourse” – and a powerful display in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day.
He remained in training as a four-year-old, winning his first race, the Gr.1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, by five lengths in May. He followed up with an amazing performance in the Gr.1 Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot, beating a high class field by 11 lengths after starting as one of the shortest-priced runners in the history of the Royal meeting. After this scintillating victory, Timeform awarded Frankel a rating of 147 – the highest mark ever given to a racehorse. It put Frankel ahead of Sea Bird II (foaled in 1962), Brigadier Gerard (foaled in 1968) and Tudor Minstrel (foaled in 1944).
His third race of 2012 was the Gr.1 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, where Frankel became the first horse in history to win the race more than once. It was then on to the Gr.1 Juddmonte International at York, where Frankel set the record for consecutive wins in European Group 1 races (eight in a row) and won his first race over 10 furlongs by an easy seven lengths. He also became the first horse in history to run to an official rating of 140 twice. The ‘Frankel factor’ saw a record first day attendance at the Ebor Festival that day, when a total of 30,163 racegoers turned up to see Frankel in the Juddmonte International – 55% more people than on the same day in 2011.
On his final career start, Frankel won the Gr.1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in thrilling style, defeating Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel and equalling the world record for consecutive Group 1 wins. He was thereafter retired to stand as a stallion at Banstead Manor Stud, the unbeaten winner of 14 races (including 10 Group 1s) and the highest rated horse in the world. Frankel is the only horse to have been crowned Cartier Horse of the Year for two successive years (2011 and 2012), and only the second horse to win the accolade more than once. He was also the first horse in more than 60 years to be a champion at two, three and four years of age, and only the fourth in 100 years (the others are Tetratema, Fairway and Abernant). His trainer Sir Henry Cecil described Frankel as "The best I have ever had, the best I have ever seen. I'd be very surprised if there's ever been anything better."