Frankel: What lies in store for the retired £100m wonder horse?

 

From the world's top-rated racehorse to the most exciting male escort around - things are about to change for Frankel.

The brilliant colt was retired to stud after his 14th consecutive victory on Saturday, in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

While a life of getting intimate with the most sought-after females on the planet might sound like many young males' ultimate fantasy, it is far from straightforward.

An old adage in bloodstock circles is that you breed the best with the best, and hope for the best.

Owners of well-bred mares from around the world have already been courting Frankel's Saudi owner, Prince Khalid Abdulla.

Frankel best I've ever seen - Cecil

"Interest in Frankel has been worldwide," said Abdulla's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe. "People wanting to breed to the horse will send their mares' CVs in and (in addition) Prince Khalid will send his own best mares that suit."

Frankel earned nearly £3m career prize money in his races, but much greater rewards await at stud.

The four-year-old horse is likely to start his new duties on, appropriately enough - 14 February, Valentines's Day - and will command a fee of £100,000 or more each time.

But first of all, he will have to prove his fertility. Some top racehorses have returned to the course after failing at stud.

"He'll probably have a few test mares early on to see that all is well and he could get them in foal," said former champion jockey Willie Carson, himself a horse breeder.

With an expected annual roster of 100 mares, that could generate at least £10m every year and upwards of £100m during his lifetime.

"All being well, provided he's a fertile horse and his libido's good, he could be covering three mares a day, or even four at peak times. That's quite demanding," said Grimthorpe.

All in the genes?

  • Frankel is the grandson of champion stallion Sadler's Wells, who died in 2011, aged 30, after siring more than 100 European Group One winners
  • Sons of Sadler's Wells, who retired from a breeding career aged 27 due to declining fertility, include Montjeu, Galileo and triple champion hurdler Istabraq
  • Montjeu, who died aged 16, won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and produced four of the last eight Epsom Derby winners - Authorized, Motivator, Pour Moi and Camelot
  • The 2001 Derby winner Galileo's offspring include 2008 Epsom victor New Approach

Jake Warren, stallion manager at the Highclere Stud in Berkshire, said the busiest routine for his operation's Paco Boy would see him booked in for 0630, 1230, 1830 and 0030 slots in a 24-hour period.

"It's considered a romantic retirement but it's not as rosy as it sounds," said Warren. "Don't get me wrong, they enjoy it, it's their natural instinct, but it's rigorous and tiring."

No wonder Frankel will be given a week or two of rest before he leaves the stables of trainer Sir Henry Cecil at Warren Place, Newmarket.

He will be returning to his birthplace, five miles away, at Banstead Manor Stud, Cheveley - part of the Juddmonte Farms breeding arm of Abdulla's racing enterprise.

As Frankel moves on to pastures new, there is likely to be a tear in the eyes of Cecil who acknowledges his best ever horse has helped him through an ongoing battle with stomach cancer.

Frankel is the son of 2001 Epsom Derby winner Galileo and Kind, who won six races during her racing career.

The stamina of his father and his mother's speed combined to produce a pacey powerhouse.

But it can be an inexact science about which pairings work.

While his father Galileo is in demand and his grandfather Sadler's Wells was a highly successful stallion, there is no guarantee Frankel will thrive.

"He starts from zero again. He starts a new ball game. He's got to prove himself in that sphere," said Carson.

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Every time the stallion is ready you will hear a big roar

Jake Warren, stallion manager at the Highclere Stud

"Some animals don't take to it, don't like it. Some get very aggressive, some get savage. It's the unknown."

The mating itself usually takes place in a large breeding shed, with handlers overseeing the union.

A "tease" - usually a flirtatious male Shetland Pony or retired racehorse - is used to check if the mare is in season.

It is the equine equivalent of a man chatting up a lady, she shows interest then another man moves in.

The mare will have three-inch thick padding placed on her back and hind feet to guard against injury.

"If she kicks out while the stallion mounts her, there is a very strong possibility she could break his leg. These horses are so valuable that every protection is taken," said Warren, whose father John is the Queen's racing manager.

"Every time the stallion is ready you will hear a big roar. The covering itself takes just 30 seconds or a minute."

Contracts are usually on a no-foal, no-fee basis, with the breeding season running until July and offspring beginning racing at the age of two.

Frankel's first sons or daughters will make the racetrack in March 2016 at the earliest, when that year's Flat season starts on turf.

That is when we will see whether Frankel's talent has been passed on to the next generation.

"I am the most biased person on earth because I have known him since he was a foal and have seen him develop into this extraordinary horse. For me, I have never seen anything like him," said Grimthorpe.

And that is the daunting challenge for his stud career - to produce future stars.

"Breeders throughout the world will want to try to breed a horse as good as him," said Carson.

"I find it hard to believe that can happen, but everyone will try."