ascot racecourse, bobby frankel, british champions day, coolmore stud, frankel, galileo, henry cecil, international sire power, juddmonte farms, khalid abdullah, leading sires, maturity in the racehorse, montjeu, northern dancer, omnipresent pedigree factors, queen elizabeth stakes, racing style and tactics. leading racehorses, sadler's wells branch of northern dancer, tom queally, world class racehorse
The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Frankel provided yet another sparkling example of his immense racing ability with an impressive victory in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot racecourse on Saturday. Following the lead of his half-brother Bullet Train (by Sadler’s Wells), Frankel showed his greatest maturity and poise in waiting till jockey Tom Queally gave him a nudge. Then the mighty champion filleted his opposition with a furlong in 10 seconds and change, and from that point onward, it was a matter of maintaining the colt’s balance and focus to the wire.
Owned by Khalid Abdullah and bred by him in the name of Juddmonte Farms, Frankel is named in honor of the great trainer Bobby Frankel, and his namesake is setting standards for excellence and character that would make the late trainer proud. Earlier in the year, and even more so last season, Frankel was a “tricky ride,” according to his jockey and trainer. In large part, this difficulty was due to the colt’s high cruising speed, which his contemporaries could not live with, but which nonetheless seemed a potential chink in the colt’s armor if he became a confirmed front-runner.
Such behavior would have made Frankel an easy victim of forcing tactics from large stables loaded with “rabbits” to take him on early and wear him out for late-charging stablemates. Through careful handling and training, Frankel has matured into a racehorse who can be positioned for his own tactical benefit. All of this is great news for Frankel’s future and continuing bad news for his hapless opponents.
Not only was Frankel leading juvenile colt last season, but he also claims the same distinction among his age group this year. Furthermore, the dashing bay is considered the best horse in the world. Now that trainer Henry Cecil has said that testing the colt at 10 furlongs and racing somewhat farther afield lie ahead for Frankel’s 4-year-old season, there won’t even be the need to slightly qualify the colt’s ranking with the phrase “at a mile.”
Those challenges lie in the future, however, as the burly bay has finished his second season, now unbeaten in nine starts, and Frankel’s rampant success has pushed his sire Galileo’s leadership as the best of his sphere farther ahead of his active contemporaries at stud.
Galileo rules supreme at Coolmore Stud, which previously stood his all-conquering sire Sadler’s Wells, and Coolmore also stands the principal classic competitor to Galileo, the Sadler’s Wells stallion Montjeu. Is that an embarrassment of riches?
No. I think not.
Over the past 20 years, one of the considerations that breeders, whether Coolmore or anyone else, have had to finesse is the choice of mates for these most prominent sires of the Northern Dancer line. The grandsire of these two stallions is omnipresent among premium bloodstock around the world and is perhaps most concentrated in the Irish élite held by Coolmore and its clients.
As a result, most of the better progeny of Galileo and Montjeu are inbred to Northern Dancer. Both of Galileo’s G1 winners this weekend – Frankel and Together (winner of the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland) – are inbred to Northern Dancer. Likewise, the two daughters of Montjeu who won the G1 E.P. Taylor and Canadian International this weekend at Woodbine are inbred to the great bay.
Montjeu’s Sarah Lynx, winner of the Canadian International, is out of a Danehill mare, like Frankel. Danehill is grandson of Northern Dancer through Danzig. And in the case of Sarah Lynx, the 4-year-old’s second dam is the Caerleon mare Champaka. Caerleon is a classic winner by Northern Dancer’s son Nijinsky, winner of the English Triple Crown in 1970.
That gives Sarah Lynx three lines of Northern Dancer, and these repetitions are going to proliferate.
But do they mean anything?
Yes, they mean something, and the most immediately understandable thing they represent is the recurrence of high quality in the pedigree, especially the presence of speed with classic potential. This was the most important quality that Northern Dancer imparted to his descendants, and it was this great quality that set apart his sons and daughters as producers of succeeding generations.
In 2012, we get to see how far this excellence of bloodline, character, and speed will carry Frankel in his quest to join racing’s immortals.