Frankel faces his toughest test as he bids farewell at Ascot
World's most expensive sporting commodity must overcome heavy conditions tomorrow
RACEHORSE Frankel is expected to end his career with a remarkable 14th straight win tomorrow in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. The four-year-old colt has been hailed as the greatest thoroughbred ever and will be put out to stud following his retirement.
"Frankel is the superstar of Flat racing, not simply unbeaten in 13 races, but untouchable," says The Daily Telegraph. "In monetary terms his potential to sire future champions makes him the most valuable single sporting commodity on the planet. It is said £100 million would not buy him."
The paper outlines the "colossal value" he will command. "Some 120 brood mares a year will visit him, their owners paying at least £100,000 in the event of a foaling. That might go on for the best part of two decades."
His long stride and phenomenal lung capacity make him a champion and also give him the ability to accelerate twice during a race, explains the Telegraph.
Sporting Life columnist and trainer Richard Fahey was in no doubt about his quality. "He's comfortably the best horse I've ever seen, he's a monster," he wrote.
But is he being retiured too early? "Many seasoned judges soberly attest there may never have been a better thoroughbred," says Chris McGrath in The Independent, but he notes that he "is set to be retired without exploring the full reach of his talent".
What's more, "racing has a culpable habit of exalting its latest paragon as the best ever."
But his last race could be the one that assures his legacy. He has never raced in heavy going before and in such conditions a victory may not be assured. "Frankel will race on the most testing ground he has ever encountered in his 14th and final run," notes the Daily Mail.
Ladbrokes agrees. Indeed the a combination of the conditions and concerns about the horse's safety will mean that jockey Tom Queally will not push him. And that means that although he will win, it will be by less than six lengths.
A victory for Frankel would help bring the curtain down on a "sporting year that never seems to want to end", according to Steven Howard in The Sun. After an incredible 2012 "we could have the most remarkable and emotional tale of them all" at Ascot.
And it is not just about the horse. "The cream of the racing fraternity will also be there to pay homage to Frankel's trainer Sir Henry Cecil," he says. "Should Frankel win then the three cheers for Sir Henry as he enters the winners' enclosure will probably be heard back in Newmarket."
The veteran trainer, who is fighting cancer, appeared washed up seven years ago but has fought his way back to the top. "Cecil is the horse trainer's horse trainer, the king of the crop."