Updated on 10/25/2012 1:19PM

Ascot: Frankel takes Champion Stakes to end career a perfect 14 for 14


Frankel completed a brilliant undefeated career winning for the 14th time in the Champion Stakes on Saturday at Ascot in England, staking his claim as one of the best racehorses ever with a 1 3/4-length victory over the top-class French invader Cirrus des Aigles.

A miler for most of his career, Frankel was making just his second start beyond that trip, and racing over the softest turf course he’d encountered. His main Champion foe, Cirrus des Aigles, had won this race last year while showing a love for testing conditions throughout his long career. And when Frankel came alongside him with a little less than a quarter-mile to race, Cirrus des Aigles briefly braced against the challenge, but he failed to match Frankel’s late stride and settled for second, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of Nathaniel. Time for the 1 1/4 miles on turf rated soft was a slow 2:10.22, speaking to the testing nature of the course.

Shortly after the race Frankel’s breeder and owner, Khalid Abdullah, announced that Frankel had raced for the last time and would go to stud for the 2013 breeding season.

Frankel began his memorable run Saturday by not running: When the gate sprang open Frankel stood still, coming out of his stall at jockey Tom Queally’s urging while spotting his rivals a couple lengths. The slow start turned Frankel’s trip somewhat tricky. While Frankel caught up with the pack, Ian Mongan, the jockey on his rabbit, Bullet Train, looked several times behind him, trying to find the superstar for whom he was to be pace-making. About a half-mile in, Frankel, fourth on the outside, had drawn virtually abreast of Bullet Train, third on the inside, with Cirrus des Aigles leading the pack. Queally might have said something to Mongan, as in any case Bullet Train shot through on the fence to take the lead from Cirrus des Aigles with about six furlongs left to run. Nathaniel, racing about three paths wide, made the first bid as the field turned into the stretch, moving outside Cirrus des Aigles, who responded by taking the lead from Bullet Train. But there came Frankel, quickly putting Nathaniel aside to turn his focus to Cirrus des Aigles, who simply could not quicken with the best horse in the world.

The incident has faded over time, but in April, there was concern Frankel wouldn’t race as a 4-year-old. The colt rapped a tendon during a workout, and it took several days before the injury was determined to be superficial. Frankel made his seasonal debut as planned in the J.T. Lockinge Stakes, where he beat Excelebration by five lengths, and then came perhaps the best of his many spectacular performances, an 11-length annihilation of Excelebration in the Queen Anne Stakes. Excelebration raced about a half-hour before Frankel on Saturday, easily winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

All told, Frankel, by Galieo and out of the Danehill mare Kind, won 10 Group 1 races over three seasons, beating 23 Group 1 winners during his career. His 14 wins came by more than 75 combined lengths, and only twice did a rival get within one length of him at the finish. The winner’s share of the Champion purse raised Frankel’s bankroll to over $4 million, a figure he should earn many, many times over at stud.

“He’s the best I’ve ever had and the best I’ve ever seen,” said winning trainer Sir Henry Cecil, a legend in his own right. “I’d be very surprised if there’s ever been better.”