By the bookmakers, it's the next best thing to a sure thing that Frankel will notch up to lucky 13. On Monday, he was listed at 1-7 and 1-8 on the various British lines. And the way Frankel has performed in his 12 wins gives every indication he's basically unbeatable as long as jockey Tom Queally hangs on tight.
But there are some issues.
No. 1 issue: The Juddmonte International is run at a little more than 1 1/4 miles. Frankel has never run past 1 mile in any of his 12 wins. Of course, he's shown no indication he won't go the extra 2 furlongs. But it's horse racing and you just never know.
No. 2 issue: This also is Frankel's first trip over the York surface. He has had no problem with Newmarket, Newbury, Ascot, Goodwood or Doncaster, so it's the same deal as the distance. There's no reason he shouldn't do it. He just hasn't -- yet.
The most important issue: The competition. Stepping up in distance also exposes Frankel to a whole new set of opponents and there are some tough cookies in this bunch. In addition to Frankel's "rabbit," Bullet Train, those still on the list Monday are Farhh, St Nicholas Abbey, Twice Over, Planteur, Sri Putra, Windsor Palace and Robin Hood.
Among them, those horses have won the likes of the Breeders' Cup Turf, the Coronation Cup, the Coral-Eclipse, the Champion Stakes and the Prix Ganay. And, oh yes, Twice Over won this race last year.
Farhh and Windsor Palace have both tried Frankel before without a sniff of success. But that was at the 1-mile distance.
Frankel's trainer, Henry Cecil, says he hopes to be at York to see his star pupil perform. Cecil has been undergoing treatment for cancer and has been away from the track for an extended period while overseeing his empire from his desk.
Should Frankel win, Cecil will have a choice of races on Qipco Champions Day and whatever route he takes, that is likely to be the final outing for the 4-year-old Galileo colt before he retires to stud to start producing more runners for owner Khalid Abdullah, the master of Juddmonte Farms, which sponsors Wednesday's race.
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