Last week we told you that British racing legend Frankel was putting his unbeaten record on the line for the final time at Ascot. Being 13-0 and one of the most celebrated race horses in the world brings quite a bit of pressure to any race, but when it’s known beforehand that the next race will be the last it only adds to the weight on the shoulders of the training staff, jockey, and the horse. Frankel was also facing what was considered to be his toughest opponents, which also added to the drama.
Over 32,000 racing fans packed into Ascot Racecourse to say goodbye to their beloved champion and to see if he can end his career in the same way he maintained it; with excellence. Only six horses entered the Qipco Champion Stakes, but one of those was Cirrus Des Aigles, who won the race last year and is an eight time graded stakes winner. Nathaniel was another thoroughbred that could prove to be a challenge for Frankel, as he has won two graded races at Ascot in the past, and had actually finished second to him in Frankel’s maiden race in 2010.
Early on, Frankel stayed to the back of the pack, as jockey Tom Queally patiently stalked the leaders by a couple of lengths for the first half of the contest, after a slow start from the gate. With five furlongs to go Bullet Train pushed past Cirrus Des Aigles for the lead, while Nathaniel and Frankel trailed. Right at the turn Bullet Train started to fade, which allowed Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel to blow past him. Frankel went to the outside on the turn and started making a run at the leaders. The final two furlongs belonged to Cirrus Des Aigles and Frankel as the rest of the field had no fight in them. The two battled for a short spurt, but the cream rose to the top and the undefeated champion was not to be denied. Frankel won by a little over a length and has secured his place in racing history as one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all-time.
Tom Queally was noticeably excited as he patted his ride several times after the finish line and led him through a cool down trot where the other participants rode up to congratulate the jockey and horse who captured the respect of racing fans, and those involved in the industry, around the world. The crowd at Ascot, along with Queen Elizabeth herself, was treated to a fantastic race and were able to leave fulfilled, as they watched a great champion put it on the line one final time and come away the victor. Frankel leaves behind a career on the track that is now going to be put in front of fans and racing historians who will discuss his amazing career and undoubtedly speculate on his place in the history of the sport. The four-year-old will move on to a new career and not too far down the road we will be able to see if the success on the track can carry over into his breeding. Frankel is retiring from racing a perfect 14-0.