In the end, Frankel had nothing left to prove and his victory in the Qipco Champion Stakes proved it.
The world's top-rated horse is off to a career in the breeding shed with a perfect record of 14 wins from 14 starts after easily besting Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel in Saturday's setpiece on British Champions Day at Ascot.
As he went through his 4-year-old season, Frankel answered every question put to him. First it was the best milers in England and Europe. No problem. Then he was sent an extra 2 furlongs at York. Again, no problem.
Finally, he took on older stars over heavy going and again got the job done with relative ease. The only remaining questions are: Where does he stand among the great thoroughbreds of history and, can he pass along his brilliance to his progeny.
"He's the best I've ever had and the best I've ever seen," said Frankel's trainer, Henry Cecil. "I'd be very surprised if there's ever been better."
Good luck to him and owner Khalid Abdullah and thanks for letting him run as a 4-year-old.
The Champion Stakes was the marquee attraction of the day but far from the only important race. The others:
Sapphire won the Group 2 Fillies and Mares Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over Shirocco Star, overhauling that rival in the late going. Dancing Rain finished third. Sapphire, a 4-year-old Medicean filly trained by Dermot Weld, ran the 1 1/4 miles on the soft going in 2:37.42. She now has four wins from her last five starts and is 7-for-12 overall.
Maarek bounced back from a surprising defeat against lesser at the Curragh to win the Group 2 Sprint Stakes by 3/4 of a length over Hawkeyethenoo. Sirius Prospect finished third. Maarek, a 5-year-old Pivotal gelding, worked down the stands side of the straight under Jamie Spencer and was clocked in 1:15.99.
Excellebration won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes easily enough that trainer Aidan O'Brien said he is planning on sending him on to the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita in two weeks time, adding yet more intrigue to a race already packed with it. O'Brien told At the Races the Coolmore brain trust "had it in their head they would go to the Breeders' Cup after Ascot. I think if everything is well, that is the way it is looking," After not getting clear until about 2 furlongs out, Excellebration quickly accelerated for jockey Joseph O'Brien and was clear of runner-up Cityscape by 3 lengths at the end. Elusive Kate was third and the queen's runner, Carlton House, finished fourth. Excellebration, who raced in Frankel's shadow in mile races for more than a year, finished in 1:42.33 over the slow going.
Dunaden, produced from far back in the big field, came charging down the straight to win Saturday's Group 1 Caulfield Cup at Melbourne by a half length over Alcopop. Lights of Heaven finished third. Dunaden, a globetrotting multiple Group 1 winner, got the 1 1/2 miles on good turf in 2:28.82 with Craig Williams up. He now is expected to defend his title in the Melbourne Cup, though Saturday's win likely will earn him a few penalty pounds.
Gold Ship, reserved early, surged to a 1 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Group 1 Kikuka Sho, or Japanese St Leger. Sky Dignity was second and Yuki Soldier finished third. The win was Gold Ship's second in this year's Triple Crown, interrupted by Deep Brilliante. He finished the 3,000 meters in 3:02.9. Deep Brilliante was withdrawn from the field Thursday. The race is open to foreign horses but none was entered this year.
Upperline swung four-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $125,000, Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes and wore down the leaders, winning by 3/4 of a length over Ciao Bella. Janicellaine finished third. Upperline, a 5-year-old Maria's Mon mare, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:32.19 with James Graham riding.
Gypsy Robin led from the start in Saturday's $250,000, Grade II Lexus Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and kicked clear at the end to win by 4 lengths. Sacristy was second with a mild rally and Drama Drama finished third. Gypsy Robin, a daughter of Daahar, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.79 with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Wesley Ward. She now has won five of nine starts and is undefeated on the all-weather surface. "She loves the track," winning co-owner Gatewood Bell said. "She's trained here. She's always run well here. She's a really fast horse."
Kindergarden Kid got through between rivals in the stretch run in Thursday's $100,000, Grade III Sycamore Stakes, winning by a head over Ioya Bigtime. Miami Deco finished third. Kindergarden Kid, a 5-year-old Dynaformer gelding, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:31.80 with Julien Leparoux up.
Miz Ida came from well off the pace to win Friday's $150,000, Grade III Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a head over English Class. Leading Astray finished third. Miz Ida, a Proud Citizen filly, finished the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.24 under Shaun Bridgmohan.
Bern Identity, the odds-on favorite, took over the lead when asked in Saturday's $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes and went on to win by a comfortable 3 lengths over Mylute. Mr. Bandini's Band finished third. Bern Identity, a Bernstein colt out of the Good and Tough mare Maddalena, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:39.47. Paco Lopez rode for trainer Kelly Breen. Bern Identity came into the race off a win in the Grade II Sanford Stakes at Saratoga on July 22 and a second in the Grade II Hopeful last month. Breen said he is targeting the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Nov. 17 and "wanted to get him some experience over this track before that race. This race track is a bit sandier than some and we wanted him to feel the dirt kicked in his face so he would know what it's like."
Madame Cactus came around the leaders into the stretch run in Friday's $150,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and drew off to win by 2 lengths. Sittin At the Bar finished second and Cayllano finished third. Madame Cactus is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Cactus Ridge out of the Mecke mare An Annika Moment. She ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:27.29 with Richard Eramia up for trainer Steve Asmussen. She now is two-for-two after breaking her maiden at first asking at Santa Anita.
Star Contender got the lead in Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Cup and Saucer Stakes for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, was headed and came again to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Tex finished second but was disqualified and placed third behind Tormenta Fiera. Star Contender, an Ontario-bred Henny Hughes colt out of the Unbridled's Song mare Sanibel Star, ran the 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:45.94. It was his second win from three starts. "He's just a big, beautiful horse," assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan said. "He thinks he's a star. He goes out in the morning and struts around the track. He's got a big, beautiful stride. He showed today he's still a baby, he's still got a little bit of that in him, but he just looked great."
Pender Harbour, the even-money favorite, edged clear in the stretch run to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bunty Lawless Stakes for Ontario-sired steeds by 2 1/2 lengths over Good Better Best. Mey's Rocket finished third. Pender Harbour, a 4-year-old Philanthropist gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.84 for jockey Luis Contreras.
Broken Dreams let Kindle take a big lead down the hillside turf course in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes for fillies and mares, then reeled in that rival late, winning by a half length. Kindle held second by just a neck over the favorite, Byrana, who came from well back in the field of eight fillies and mares. Broken Dreams, a 6-year-old Broken Vow mare, got the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:11.81 with Garrett Gomez riding. "I thought she was in a good spot until they crossed the dirt and that filly kind of got away a little farther," winning trainer Tom Proctor said. "Lucky she could run her down." He said he may try to stretch Broken Dreams out to two turns.
Comma to the Top led all the way to a half-length victory over Tres Borrachos in Sunday's $65,000 Big Bear Handicap with Jacito finishing third. Comma to the Top, a 4-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding, got the mile on a fast track in 1:35.98 with Corey Nakatani riding.'
Saturday was West Virginia Breeders' Classic day, with rich purses in all divisions for state-bred steeds.
In the featured, $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic, Lucy's Bob Boy jetted off in the stretch and won by 8 lengths over odds-on favorite Russell Road. Allegheny Jack led early and finished third. Lucy's Bob Boy, a 3-year-old Flatter gelding, finished the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.06. Gustavo Larrosa rode.
In the $250,000 Cavada Breeders' Classic for fillies and mares, Down Town Allen got away in the stretch to win by 7 1/4 lengths over Silver Heart. Belle of Camden finished third. Down Town Allen, a 5-year-old Windsor Castle mare, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:25.85 with Matthew McGowan up.
Stephanoatsee rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $100,000 Barbaro Stakes for 3-year-olds by 3/4 of a length over Adirondack King. Traffic Light finished third. Stephanoatsee, an A.P. Indy ridgling, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.79 with Sheldon Russell in the irons.
Bryan's Jewel was up in the late going to win Saturday's $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial for fillies and mares by 1 1/4 lengths over Sky Willow. Eulonia finished third. Bryan's Jewel, a 4-year-old Rockport Harbor filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:46.22 with Ricardo Santana Jr. up.
Escrow Kid led all the way to a 2-length victory over Dinny Dinosaur in Saturday's $60,000 New Castle Stakes. Out to Conquer You finished third. Escrow Kid, a 5-year-old Smart Strike gelding, got to the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.98 with Jeremy Rose riding.
Missy Rules led from the start in Saturday's $60,000 Small Wonder Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, worked clear late and won by 2 3/4 lengths over Funny Lady. Lost Memory finished third. Missy Rules, a Florida-bred Peace Rules filly, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a wet-fast track in 1:05.92 with Jose Caraballo up.
Win Willy rallied from last of five to run away with Saturday's $75,000 DTHA Governor's Day Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths over Forgotten Knot. Bid Til Included finished third. Win Willy, a 6-year-old son of Monarchos, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a wet-fast track in 1:41.33 under Alex Cintron.
Missjeanlouise tracked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 Powerless Stakes for Illinois-bred fillies and mares, went on when asked by jockey Florent Geroux and won by a length. Algonquin Posse led early in the long stretch run and held second. Fire Tricks finished third. Missjeanlouise, a 4-year-old Victory Gallop filly, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.82.
Signsealndeliver came four wide to take the lead in Saturday's $125,000 Lightning Jet Handicap and drew off in the late going to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Nagys Piggy Bank banked place money and Sacred Gift got home third. Signsealndeliver, a 6-year-old Private Terms gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.24 with both Geroux and owner Midwest Thoroughbreds scoring the stakes double.
Hymn Book came from last of just four starters in Friday's $85,000 Frank Martin Stakes and drew off smartly in the stretch to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Small Town Talk. Rule and Xin Xu Lin completed the order of finish. Hymn Book, a 6-year-old Arch gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.31 with Joel Rosario up.
Our Entourage ran a three-way stretch battle in Sunday's $85,000 Temperence Hill Stakes for 3-year-olds, scoring by a nose over the odds-on favorite, Called to Serve. Twilight Eclipse finished third. Our Entourage, a Street Cry colt out of the Dynaformer mare Sand Springs, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.04 with Ramon Dominguez up.
In Saturday's races for New York-breds:
Willet jetted away in the stretch to win the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes for fillies and mares by 9 1/4 lengths. Miss Valentine was best of the rest with Lady on the Run third. Willet, a 4-year-old Jump Start filly, got the 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:23.28 under Rajiv Maragh.
Weekend Hideaway stalked the pace in the $125,000 Bertram Bongard Stakes for 2-year-olds, took over in the stretch and scored by 2 1/2 lengths over Saint Arthur. In Harm's Way got home third. Weekend Hideaway, a Speightstown colt out of the Wiseman's Ferry mare Apocalyptical, ran the 7 furlongs on a track upgraded to good in 1:24.59. Jose Lezcano rode.
Mine Over Matter rallied from far back to post a minor upset in the $150,000 Hudson Stakes, defeating odds-on favorite Saginaw by a length. Shrewd One finished third. Mine Over Matter, a 5-year-old son of Mineshaft, ran 6 furlongs on the good main track in 1:10.20 with Ramon Dominguez riding.
Hessonite exploded down the stretch in the $175,000 Ticonderoga Stakes for fillies and mares, winning off by 3 3/4 lengths over Shakeira. Gitchee Goomie finished third. Hessonite, a 4-year-old Freud filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:47.46 under Dominguez.
Matchmadeinheaven, at 10-1 odds, rallied from near the back of the pack to win the $125,000 Joseph Gimma Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 3/4 of a length over Agilion. Kelli Got Frosty finished third. Matchmadeinheaven, a daughter of Utopia, got the 7 furlongs on a good track in 1:26.34 for Lezcano.
Lunar Victory dueled through the stretch in the $250,000 Empire Classic before edging clear at the end to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Saratoga Snacks. Sailmate finished third. Lunar Victory, with Junior Alvarado up, ran the 9 furlongs on the good main track in 1:49.70.
Unbridled Command took complete command in the stretch run of the $175,000 McMahon of Saratoga Mohawk Stakes, winning off by 6 3/4 lengths. Karakorum was third. Unbridled Command, a 3-year-old Master Command colt, finished 1 1/16 miles over the yielding turf course in 1:47.02 with Dominguez up.
Golden Gate Fields
Halo Dolly stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Miss America Stakes for fillies and mares, led into the stretch and got home first by 1 3/4 lengths over Sweetly Peppered. Going for a Spin finished third. Halo Dolly, a 4-year-old Popular filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.72 under Russell Baze.
Rush Now -- appropriately -- won Saturday's $75,000 First Responder Stakes by a length over early leader Ponzi Scheme. Nibiru's Return finished third. Rush Now, a 4-year-old Tiznow gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:45.45 with Frankie Pennington in the irons.