The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
Fast, fearsome, and freakishly talented, Frankel has been retired. The champion of his age for three seasons running and generally acknowledged the best horse in the world for the last two, the powerful bay son of Galileo takes extraordinary credentials with him to stud.
Frankel is unbeaten in 14 starts, including 10 Group 1 races, but more important than his perfect record is the colt’s utter dominance of his contemporaries. None could touch him, and some of them, notably Cirrus Des Aigles, Nathaniel, St Nicholas Abbey, Canford Cliffs, and Excelebration, showed excellent form at the top level when not encumbered by chasing Frankel.
As a son of the best stallion in the world, Galileo, Frankel also is following the crest of a rising wave, as the first serious stallion sons of Galileo have had runners the past two seasons, and they include leading sires New Approach (freshman) and Teofilo (first crop now 3). Sons of Galileo are making the grade early, both with 2-year-olds and with their classic-age stock (Teofilo), and at this point, this pair of young stallions make Galileo look like a stronger sire of stallions than his own sire Sadler’s Wells.
In addition to the bloodline bonus points for his amazing sire, Frankel is out a mare who has spent her time in the paddocks as productively as a broodmare possibly could. His dam, Kind, is a daughter of the good sire and broodmare sire Danehill, and she has three stakes winners from her first three foals.
Only one of them is Frankel, but the champion’s older half-brother Bullet Train is famously known as the “only horse who can live with Frankel on the gallops,” according to trainer Henry Cecil.
So, if it seems that Frankel is the perfect horse, he is very nearly that rare gem. But even among the glittering qualities of the champion with so much obvious talent, there was one potential flaw. The colt was inclined to get overheated. It was, the trainer and jockey and racing manager for Juddmonte all concurred, not a fault of character. Frankel loved his sport rather too much.
Frankel is a good-feeling horse, with the exuberance and enthusiasm to race and feel the wind in his ears, to a fault. He is rather like a vintage champagne, which if opened tenderly will surrender trails of sparkling bubbles that break gently at the brim. But if shaken up, Frankel could easily have exploded and become a tear-away without the tractability and clear-headed resolution of a great champion.
A great trainer long before Frankel was born, Cecil showed the depth of his skills with his development of Frankel, and the horse has responded throughout his career, improving and then improving further. Frankel now stands among the supreme champions of the breed throughout history, and fans and historians of the sport will while away winter evenings with discussion of the merits of their favorite champions.
Among the greatest racers of the last 60 or so years, Frankel is most commonly mentioned alongside the great Italian-bred racer Ribot (unbeaten), the French-bred star Sea-Bird (once-beaten), the English-bred Brigadier Gerard (once-beaten), and the U.S.-bred Secretariat (thrice-beaten, plus one to the stewards). All had tremendous natural ability, which they showed on the international stage, and they went to stud with great interest from breeders and racing fans worldwide.
Of this group, only Secretariat went to stud with expectations as great as those for Frankel, and the son of Bold Ruler provides a positive parallel to the English-bred champion Frankel. Secretariat was the best racing son of the greatest stallion of his time and was out of an outstanding broodmare who had already produced a son, Sir Gaylord, who proved a top-class racer and good sire.
Unlike Secretariat, however, Frankel will not be syndicated. He will remain wholly owned by one of the most knowledgeable and successful breeders in the world, Khalid Abdullah, who will stand the colt at Banstead Manor in Newmarket. Owner of some of the best producers in the world, Juddmonte will send a large group of them to their homebred champion.
Nearly every breeder of consequence would like to send a mare to Frankel, and as a result, the demand will far exceed the supply of seasons to the horse. As surely as the sun will rise, Juddmonte will set a very robust stud fee for Frankel, partly as a means of self-limiting the number of applications for seasons.
A high stud fee will encourage the breeders who can afford it to send only their most select mares, and those most certain to patronize the stallion include prominent international breeders like Darley, Coolmore, the Aga Khan, Wertheimer et Frere, the Wildenstein family, the Niarchos family, and other premier breeders of bloodstock.
Another point of interest is that the majority of this list is populated with home breeders. This is a gentle difference to the trend of breeding in America, where Frankel would have been more strongly patronized by commercial breeders.
Nor is Frankel likely to serve an oversized book of mares or to shuttle to the Southern Hemisphere and cover a vast number of mares annually. Instead, Frankel primarily will be siring foals for breeders’ racing stables, not commercial yearlings, and he will be siring a more restricted number of foals than has been common with stallions owned by Coolmore or Darley.
Naturally, the Frankel yearlings who do go to the sales will attract intense interest and will command high prices.