Frankel: Juddmonte International Stakes is toughest test

Frankel the horse

Juddmonte International Stakes

Ebor Festival, York Racecourse
22-25 August
Live coverage of the International Stakes, 15:40 BST, on BBC 5 Live & 5 Live Sports Extra

Frankel faces the 13th and perhaps most important test of his unbeaten career so far in the £725,000 Juddmonte International Stakes, the feature event at York's Ebor Festival.

For the first time, the Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt is being asked to show the brilliance that has earned him the rating of best horse in the world in a race of beyond a mile in distance.

No-one doubts that he's an all-time great who will be fine with the extra quarter-mile, but clearly it does provide an unknown, one that's adding extra anticipation to the Group One prize.

Some of that will be of the nervous variety because now we have got this far, it is important to the whole Frankel legend, one that will be told down the years, that he remains unbeaten.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, head of the Juddmonte racing and thoroughbred breeding empire, said: "I don't think that the step up will be a concern. In his early days he used to get carried away with his great big stride, but under Henry's guidance he's learnt to settle and be less exuberant.

"You dream of horses like Frankel, and it's wonderful to take him to York as this is the 22nd year of the sponsorship, and I'm now lucky enough to be chairman. So it's all very special."

The Knavesmire racecourse, just outside York's city walls, is braced for a bumper crowd encouraged to the first of its four days by the so-called "Frankel factor".

Certainly, despite the alternative attraction of the Olympics, Glorious Goodwood's attendance was noticeably swelled by the appearance of horseracing's own multiple gold medallist.

Frankel at Royal Ascot

There, the son of the prolific stallion Galileo breezed to his eighth victory at Group One level, in the Sussex Stakes, again under jockey Tom Queally, adding to the impression given by earlier, runaway successes that he is better than ever.

York, where the Aidan O'Brien-trained Breeders Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey offers good quality opposition, is likely to be the penultimate start of Frankel's career.

Cecil, himself absent from Goodwood because of illness, seems to be planning a finale for the most exciting racehorse seen in years at Ascot's British Champions Day in October.

The Ebor Festival's other Group One prizes may well be going overseas.

French filly Shareta, runner-up in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, looks good in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Thursday, 1540 BST), as does Australia's Ortensia in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Friday, 1540).

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