Who was Robert J. Frankel?

Of course, the name ‘Frankel’ is well known in horse racing circles as the name of the horse that retired from racing, unbeaten in fourteen races, in October, 2012 and was subsequently named the highest-rated horse in the history of World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings and Timeform. Owned by Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel was named in honour of the late Robert Julian Frankel, who died of leukemia, at the age of 68, in 2009.

Robert Frankel, affectionately known as ‘Bobby’, was one of the most successful American racehorse trainers in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer five times, in 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Indeed, in 2003, Frankel saddled 25 winners at the highest Grade One level, thereby setting a world record for a single season, which would last until 2017, when surpassed by Aidan O’Brien.

Who was Sir Henry Cecil?

The late Sir Henry Cecil, who died of cancer on June 11, 2013, at the age of 70, is best known as the trainer of Frankel, the highest rated horse in the history of Timeform and World Thoughbred Rankings, who retired, unbeaten in 14 races, in October, 2012. However, while Cecil, who was kinghted for services to horse racing in 2011, may have described Frankel as ‘the best horse I’ve ever seen’, he was arguably one of the greatest trainers in history.

Unfortunately his career was overshadowed by controversy but, in his heyday, between the late Seventies and early Nineties, Cecil was Champion Trainer ten times. Overall, he saddled 25 British Classic winners and was particularly adept with fillies, winning the Oaks eight times, including with Fillies’ Triple Crown heroine Oh So Sharp in 1985, and the 1,000 Guineas six times. He also won the Derby four times, including with British Horse of the Year, Reference Point, in 1987, the St. Leger four times and the 2,000 Guineas three times. Until June, 2018, when Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Cecil also held the record for the most winners at Royal Ascot, having saddled 75 in his long, illustrious career.

Which races did Frankel win at Royal Ascot?

Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, under the auspices of Khalid Abdullah, and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel won five times at Ascot in all, but just two of those victories came at Royal Ascot. Indeed, on the first occasion, as a three-year-old, on June 14, 2011, Frankel came as close to defeat as he did in his entire 14-race career. Fresh from an impressive 6-length win in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Galileo colt was sent off at 30/100 to win the St. James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting. However, having taken a 6-length lead with a quarter of a mile to run, Frankel was quickly coming back to his rivals inside the final half a furlong and had to be ridden out by jockey Tom Queally to beat 20/1 chance Zoffany, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, by three-quarters of a length.

The following season, as a four-year-old, Frankel contested the opening Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which he started a hugley prohibitive 1/10. Nevertheless, his cramped odds proved entirely justified as he soon quickened clear, despite drifting slightly right in the closing stages, for an extremely impressive 11-length win over old rival Excelebration; in so doing, Frankel achieved the highest rating ever achieved by a Flat horse in the history of Timeform.

How does Pinatubo compare with Frankel?

Frankel, of course, retired in October, 2012, unbeaten in fourteen races, including ten at the highest, Group One level, as the highest-rated racehorse ever. However, Frankel raced just four times as a juvenile, culminating in a comfortable 2½-length victory over Roderic O’Connor in the Group One Dubai Dewhurst Stakes, for which he was awarded an official rating of 126. That was sufficient for him to end his juvenile campaign as the joint-top-rated two-year-old, alongside Dream Ahead.

By contrast, Pinatubo raced six times as a juvenile and remained unbeaten. His victories included an impressive 9-length win in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, for which he was awarded an official rating of 128, and a 2-length win in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes on his final two outings. Consequently, Pinatubo ended his juvenile campaign with the highest official rating since the 130 awarded to Celtic Swing and fully 10lb ahead of the best of his contemporaries, namely Earthlight and Kamenko.

Of course, Frankel went on to prove himself a champion at three and four years, achieving an official rating of 136 in 2011 and 140 in 2012. Pinatubo enjoyed an exceptional juvenile campaign, in which he achieved more than even Frankel, but needs to improve by 8lb or more from two to three, and 4lb or more from three to four, if he is to emulate his illustrious predecessor. That is, by no means, beyond the realms of possibility, but it remains early days for the son of Shamardal.

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