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By John Berry

There were two seemingly opposing views to take about the champion’s forthcoming stud career when Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) brought down the curtain on his sublime racing career by sauntering home in the G1 QIPCO Champion S. on Oct. 20, 2012. He was taking his record to 14 from 14, leaving the tens of thousands of misty-eyed worshippers who had made the pilgrimage to Ascot to bid their hero farewell convinced that they would never see such a paragon again. On the one hand the rhetorical question: ‘How could a horse this great fail to become a great stallion?’ On the other, the down-to-earth reality check: ‘The only certainty is that he will never sire a horse as good as himself.’

In fact, both points are entirely valid. It is almost certain that Frankel will never sire a horse as great as he was. Nor, indeed, will any other stallion. Galileo has sired one, and only one, horse of Frankel’s class, but it would be hoping for lightning to strike twice for him to do so again.

But, at the same time, the benchmark of a successful stud career is far lower than the ability to sire the best horse anyone has ever seen. Galileo would still be an all-time great sire even if Frankel had never been born. And, as we know now that we have the accumulated evidence of three seasons of form on which to base our verdict, Frankel is indeed shaping up as a great stallion.

There is both entertainment and education to be had every season in keeping an eye out each day for runners by first-season sires. During the 2016 season, such scrutiny became an obsession for many of Frankel’s fans, who would scan the entries each day to find horses not by first-season sires in general, but by one in particular. Running tallies were kept, and nobody was disappointed: when the first Frankel 2-year-olds starting running, they started winning. And that has been the norm ever since then.

All eyes were on Cunco (Ire) when the John Gosden-trained colt lined up at Newbury on May 13, 2016. He didn’t let his father down. Cunco then went to Royal Ascot the following month, finishing third to subsequent dual Classic winner Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the Chesham S. Another of Frankel’s early winners, Fair Eva (GB), scored on debut at Haydock on June 8 and then became her father’s first stakes winner by taking the G3 Princess Margaret S. over six furlongs at Ascot on July 23.

Queen Kindly (GB) started off in similar vein, winning easily on debut over five furlongs at Catterick on June 3 before finishing a close third at Royal Ascot in the G3 Albany S. She subsequently became Frankel’s second group winner when taking the G2 Lowther S. at York’s Ebor Meeting, beating Roly Poly (War Front) with Fair Eva in third.

Further stakes winners followed as summer turned to autumn. Frankuus (Ire) had scored on debut at Haydock Park on June 9 before going on to take the Ascendant S. at the same course and the G3 Prix de Conde at Chantilly. Toulifaut (Ire) took her record to three-from-three when taking the G3 Prix d’Aumale at Chantilly. In Japan, Mi Suerte (Jpn) landed the G3 KBS Kyoto Sho Fantasy S. before Soul Stirring (Jpn) became Frankel’s first Group 1 winner when taking the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies S. in December.

This was all very promising. How, though, would his stock fare as they got older? Well, it didn’t take long before we knew. Eminent (Ire), successful in a maiden race at Newmarket on his only appearance at two, landed the G3 Craven S. over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket’s first meeting of 2017. Eight days later Cunco showed that he had progressed from two to three when winning the G3 Classic Trial at Sandown. The following month Soul Stirring became Frankel’s first Classic winner by taking the G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in Tokyo.

Cracksman (GB), a winner on debut at Newmarket as a 2-year-old and successful as a spring 3-year-old in the Investec Derby Trial S. at Epsom, nearly followed Soul Stirring’s example in Europe, finishing third in the Derby and second (beaten a neck) in the Irish Derby. Eminent won the very valuable G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano over 2000m at Deauville after having finished fourth in the Derby. Frankuus and Queen Kindly both won black-type races. Cracksman enjoyed a stellar autumn, taking the G2 Great Voltigeur S. over 12 furlongs at York by six lengths, the G2 Prix Niel over 2400m at Chantilly by 3.5 lengths and the G1 QIPCO Champion S. over 10 furlongs at Ascot by seven lengths, slamming the multiple Group 1 winners Poet’s Word (Ire) (Poet’s Voice {GB}), Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Recoletos (Fr) (Whipper).

At the same time, Frankel’s second batch of juveniles were making a similarly good impression, including G2 Futurity S. winner Rostropovich (Ire), G3 Champions Juvenile S. winner Nelson (Ire) and G3 Somerville Tattersall S. winner Elarqam (GB). The first two of those won Classic trials this spring, while Elarqam finished a close fourth in the 2,000 Guineas. Cracksman continued to embellish his record through 2018, landing the G1 Prix Ganay (by four lengths) and the G1 Coronation Cup in the spring before signing off with a second G1 QIPCO Champion S. (by six lengths) in the autumn, taking a record of 11 wins and three minor placings from 14 starts with him to Dalham Hall Stud.

Two days after Cracksman’s Coronation Cup victory, the Frankel 4-year-old Mozu Ascot became the stallion’s second Japanese Group 1 winner by taking the Yasuda Kinen over 1600m in Tokyo. Later in June, Frankel was the leading sire at Royal Ascot where the 3-year-old miler Without Parole (GB) took the G1 St. James’s Palace S. and Monarchs Glen (GB) recorded his third black-type triumph by landing the Wolferton S. Another Frankel 4-year-old to thrive through the summer was Mirage Dancer, winner of the G3 Glorious S. at Glorious Goodwood. He could add further laurels to Frankel’s crown at next month’s Hong Kong International Meeting at Sha Tin.

Finche (GB), too, has continued to thrive as a 4-year-old. Winner last year of the G2 Prix Eugene Adam over 2000m at Maisons-Laffitte, he took the G3 Prix de Reux over 2500m at Deauville this August and most recently finished an excellent fourth in the G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup in Australia. Another Frankel 4-year-old stayer, Call The Wind (GB), took the G1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp in the autumn; while Fashion Business (GB) took the GII Del Mar H. in August.

It is now clear that Frankel is the complete stallion, producing high-class horses all the way across the distance spectrum who often show both precocity and the ability to progress further as they mature. Obviously he has had the assistance of full books of very good mares, but plenty of top-class racehorses have been bountifully patronised at stud without taking advantage to anything like the extent that Frankel has done. His achievements to date are astounding for a horse with only three years of runners behind him, particularly a horse who has never shuttled. It should, incidentally, be pointed out that Frankel has covered sizeable books of mares to Southern Hemisphere time, the most notable product to date being this season’s G2 Tea Rose S. winner Miss Fabulass (Aus), a daughter of the 2008 VRC Oaks heroine Samantha Miss (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}).

Frankel has sired winners in at least 12 different countries, with group/graded winners in six of those. Having reached the milestone of 20 Northern Hemisphere group/graded winners faster than any other European stallion in the history of the pattern, he has to date been represented by 25 individual group/graded winners, five of whom have scored at Group 1 level. His progeny tally of Group 1 victories stands at nine, backed up by nine Group 2 triumphs and 19 Group 3 wins. He is currently sitting on the mind-bogglingly good ratio of 27% black-type performers/runners.

Furthermore, he seems compatible with a wide range of mares, these 25 group/graded winners coming from the daughters of 23 different stallions, with only Pivotal (GB) and Kingmambo featuring as the dams of two such horses.

An abnormally talented racehorse who displayed brilliant speed despite having a pedigree replete with stamina–as typified by his granddam Rainbow Lake (GB) (Rainbow Quest) who won the G3 Lancashire Oaks by seven lengths–Frankel was Europe’s best 2-year-old in 2010. As a 3-year-old he was even better, and at four he was out of this world. He has now demonstrated that he is capable of passing on his own precocity and his own progressiveness, of passing on both speed and stamina; and he is doing so with almost metronomic regularity.

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