Frankel: 'Super stud' stallion in demand for £125,000 a time

Frankel at Banstead Manor Stud, and on the racetrack

Unbeaten Frankel's achievements on the racecourse were legendary - but his new breeding career has already easily surpassed what he earned on the track.

One year on from the final triumph of his glorious 14-race winning run, the world's top-rated racehorse is now a stallion who commands a fee of up to £125,000 a time.

By the end of his first year at stud, he will have earned about £15m - five times his total prize money from racing.

And like any sought-after male escort, he comes with rave reviews - "super fertile", "alpha male", "thorough gentleman".

He boasts a strike rate not far off his 100% record on the track - 126 of the 133 mares who visited him are expecting foals in the first part of next year.

Six of the remaining seven were pregnant before suffering early foetal deaths although a "no-foal, no-fee arrangement" usually applies.

Some of the healthy potential future equine stars will be bought at public sales in December before they are even born.

"Frankel has started very positively. His libido is good, and a 95% success rate for a first season stallion is very good," said Lord "Teddy" Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Prince Khalid Abdulla.

The Saudi prince retired Frankel, trained by Sir Henry Cecil, after a rapturous reception in the winner's enclosure at Ascot racecourse on British Champions Day a year ago.

In the next five months the colt, now aged five, was prepared for a stallion career, which started on Valentine's Day.

While his diet and regime changed ahead of his new duties, his fitness was maintained by being taken on daily seven-mile walks around Banstead Manor Stud, owned by the prince's Juddmonte Farms breeding operation.

Frankel was back at his birthplace when he moved from Warren Place training yard on the edge of Newmarket, where the Cecil family flag was raised after each Group One victory, to the stud about five miles away.

He has other stallions for neighbours and lives in box number two. Well, even he can't be number one all the time.

From that first Valentine with the mare Midday, he has bred with some of the finest mares around in a building the size of a small village hall officially called the covering shed and nicknamed the "love shack".

"Frankel has been a true gentleman throughout the season," said Juddmonte general manager Philip Mitchell.

On a tour of the impeccably kept stud, staff describe the horse as "super fertile".

Of his first 133 matings, 113 were the winners of races, including 38 who had scored at Group or Grade One level. Their average age, of 10, is twice his own.

At the peak of his powers, he was on duty three times a day - at 7.30am, 3pm and 9pm.

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Frankel

The first fruits of this labour of love will be on sale in December when 11 pregnant mares who visited Frankel earlier in the year go to Tattersalls horse sales in Newmarket.

"We expect it to generate an enormous amount of interest and competition from breeders and owners who wish to buy into the legend that is Frankel," said Jimmy George, Tattersalls marketing director.

While nothing is certain in this field, and not all great racehorses become stars at stud, bloodlines are crucial in producing future champions.

"Dancing Rain, who won the Oaks in 2011, will be coming through our December sale carrying a first foal by Frankel. Even for us, that's a 'wow'," said George.

"It is the ultimate package, an outstanding mare in foal to the best racehorse we've ever seen. There's no guarantees, but in thoroughbred racing, it's hard to beat that."

With powerful bloodstock empires from Qatar, Ireland and Dubai among those pitting their financial muscles against each other at such sales, you might struggle to remember times are tough.

Two unraced yearlings fetched a combined total of more than £8m as records tumbled during bidding earlier in October.

When Frankel's offspring, or progeny as they are known in breeding circles, enter the sales ring next December, buyers will be seeking his hallmarks.

"The expression used in the game is to stamp their stock. People will be looking to see Frankel in the make and shape of those foals," said George.

What is it, then, that marks Frankel out as a unique thoroughbred?

"You certainly know when he's in the room," jokes Grimthorpe. "He's an alpha male, no doubt about that."

Grimthorpe, who was a close friend of Cecil and can casually reel off each of the great horse's victories if requested, said he had always been extremely willing to race.

Frankel was even something of a tearaway as a youngster, before his exuberance was channelled expertly by the tender touch of 10-time champion trainer Cecil.

"His cruising speed was equivalent to a lot of horses going flat out, and he had an incredible stride on him," said Grimthorpe.

"You can see when horses were trying to match strides, they had to take one-and-a-half strides to his one.

"If you look at his form, it was always franked. Horses beaten by him went on to win decent races."

He is the son of 2001 Epsom Derby winner Galileo - now a prolific sire himself - and grandson of champion stallion Sadler's Wells,

Frankel was champion aged two, three, and four. Those 14 victories included 10 at the highest Group One level, nine of which he won on the trot. And some at an apparent canter.

He was victorious in his Champion Stakes swansong despite facing Cirrus Des Aigles, the second top-rated horse in the world, on soft ground which played much more to his opponent's strengths.

Little wonder then that despite his lofty stud fee, Frankel was oversubscribed, with more than 220 potential suitors from around the world.

Autumn brings about 30 mares from the southern hemisphere, including Australia, before a rest between November and February.

He completed his first set of bookings in June at around the time Cecil died after a six-year battle with cancer.

After the horse retired, the seriously ill Cecil would make weekly visits to see his one-time stable star at stud.

The trainer may have sadly gone, but his champion racehorse's legacy is set to go on.

It all has a touch of Hollywood about it. The horse named after one training legend who helped another achieve the highlight of a racing life in the sickness-ravaged twilight of his career.

"The only way I can describe it is as an alignment of the stars. If you wrote the story as fiction, it would be rejected on the grounds it sounded like a fairytale," said Grimthorpe.

With a standard 11-month pregnancy for mares, the first of Frankel's offspring will arrive in the early months of 2014.

They will grace the track as two-year-olds in the summer of 2016, when Frankel's name will appear in racecards as the sire of a new generation of equine talent.

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