The Frankel Story

Frankel - the early years

Kind, the dam of FrankelFrankel’s story began in box number 5 of the foaling unit at Banstead Manor Stud, a picturesque farm on the outskirts of Newmarket, in the village of Cheveley. It was here, late in the evening of the 11th February 2008, that the eight-year-old Listed winning mare Kind gave birth to a smart bay colt by leading sire Galileo, whom she had visited in Ireland just over 11 months before. 

Present that day was Jim Power, the now-retired former Stud Groom at Banstead and the man in charge of supervising foaling mares. “It was a good, straightforward foaling,” remembers Jim. “Kind is a typical Juddmonte mare from a proper Juddmonte family – and really easy to deal with, which was a plus factor. Her own dam, Rainbow Lake, was the same – a really lovely mare.”

Weighing in at 123lb, the new foal was described by Stud Manager Simon Mockridge as “a quality colt, tall with size and scope”, and it soon became apparent that this colt had something special about him.  “He never gave you any problems, but he was always a character,” describes Jim. “He was very inquisitive and attentive to what was going on around him, whether he was in the stable or the field. He was always the first one to come up to you and was the type of foal who would defy you not to take notice of him. A bit like how he is now when he’s racing!”

After a three-month trip to Ireland with his dam (who was again to visit Galileo), Frankel returned to Banstead, where he continued to grow in both size and in character. Jim continues: “He was a straightforward yet sensitive horse, with a slight air of arrogance about him - really top class racehorses often have that character. I think you have to have character to be a champion, in the same way the best academics, sportsmen or musicians for example often do. It sets them apart from the norm.”

Mares and foals at Banstead Manor StudThat first summer, Frankel spent his days in the paddock with Kind and two other mare-and-foal pairings – Quest To Peak and her filly foal by Dansili (a half-sister to 1000 Guineas Gr.1 winner Special Duty who was later to be named Exemplify), and Discuss with her filly by Beat Hollow, later named Hollow Talk. Then in mid-July, at five months of age, the time came for Frankel to be weaned. Jim recalls: “He took weaning very well – as with most of horses on the farm, he had already weaned himself really by becoming more and more independent from his mum. On the day of weaning, we gave him his breakfast, the feed went down and he didn’t even realise he’d been weaned!” 

Frankel, Exemplify and Hollow Talk then joined a larger band of weanlings out in the paddocks of Banstead, before being sent to Ireland to commence the first part of their training for life as a racehorse. Although the as yet unnamed Frankel was clearly a foal of some standing, as he left the care of Jim Power no-one could have guessed what the colt would go on to achieve. Says Jim: “It’s a great privilege to have been involved with Frankel, but it’s the nature and excitement of this job that you don’t know at the time how good they’re going to be – they’re an unknown quantity. I’ve brought an awful lot of horses into this world, and all you want is for them to be healthy and to give them a good start in life.”

Early training

Yearlings in training at Ferrans Stud“Frankel arrived at New Abbey Stud on 17th September 2008,” remembers Rory Mahon, Farms Manager for Juddmonte in Ireland. “My rating for him at the time was 7++. He was a well-balanced colt with a very good walk, and he stood on good limbs. His temperament was also very good.”

Frankel spent the next year in Ireland growing and becoming gradually accustomed to the routines of a grown-up thoroughbred, first in the tranquil surrounds of New Abbey and then at nearby Ferrans Stud. In September 2009, the one-and-a-half-year old Frankel was broken in – accepting the saddle and bridle and becoming used to a rider on his back at all paces - a process which Frankel took to with ease. “He was a quick learner,” recalls Rory of the time when Frankel was introduced to the canter, as the colt’s fitness levels were steadily built to the point where he could enter into training. “At the time of his departure to Henry’s in January 2010, he was doing a mile trotting and a mile cantering, and was showing lots of potential – a very sound colt at all times.”

Frankel arrived at Sir Henry Cecil’s yard in Newmarket on 14th January 2010, and has remained there ever since. After demonstrating a huge amount of talent both in training and on the racecourse, from his very first race in a maiden at Newmarket to his run of Group 1 successes, Frankel has since been labelled a ‘freak’ by some racing followers. The man who helped bring him into the world, Jim Power, however doesn’t agree. “I’m not sure I agree with people calling Frankel a ‘freak’. He is the epitome of what you want to achieve when you breed the best to the best. He’s not a freak, he’s a true racehorse – he lives to run.”

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Frankel Facts

After winning the Juddmonte International Stakes Gr.1 at York in his first race over 10 furlongs, Frankel surpassed the record for consecutive wins in European Group 1 races set by Rock Of Gibraltar ten years ago.