Lockinge Stakes: Rocket Frankel poised to explode
Timeform's Adam Brookes previews the most eagerly anticipated return since The Prodigal Son as Frankel makes his seasonal reappearance in Saturday's Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury...
Forget Haye v Chisora, or even England v France for that matter, the clash that could provide the most sparks this summer is Frankel against the 'The Wonder From Down Under', 'The Antipodean Arrow' or whatever else Aussie icon Black Caviar is labelled as come Glorious Goodwood, but first the most naturally gifted horse to grace the turf in many decades must deal with the old and the new on the flat terrain of Newbury.
Having overcome an injury scare that had the Twitterati packing him off to Juddmonte's breeding barns to collect platinum-plated pipe and slippers, Frankel looked on great terms with himself in his piece of work with Bullet Train and Jet Away at Newmarket on Guineas Weekend, relaxed and even stronger (frightening, isn't it?), powering away in trademark fashion to leave those watching scanning his wake for toiling passenger trains.
The devastating drive and determination that saw him go 9 and 0 during the previous two seasons has still been very much in evidence since turning four by all accounts and his scope to continue to progress (bear in mind his last performance was his highest-rated), means he could rewrite the history books this term, with the step up to a mile and quarter that he'll face further down the line expected to prove well within his compass.
Sir Henry Cecil has been feeling his way with more delicacy than ever in the last month and there is no doubt that Frankel will arrive at Newbury near the peak of his powers if not at the summit, a state which should still enable him to provide his supporters with the thrill their pilgrimages seek.
While there's little doubt the Lockinge revolves around Frankel, each of his rivals nevertheless have a significant part to play, whether it be with regards how the race is run or how the form is ultimately assessed.
You'll definitely see a piece of racing history made at Newbury on Saturday whatever happens; 10 races unbeaten would be the longest sequence since Ribot in the '50s, while should the unthinkable play out and Frankel succumbs, one lucky horse will be able to lay claim to being the only equine athlete to have ever lowered the colours of one of the sport's biggest ever poster boys.
However, a feature of Frankel's wins last year was the large margins he put between himself and his rivals and, with top-notchers Excelebration and Strong Suit in the field, should a similar scenario develop in the Lockinge his current figure would need to be closely scrutinised, moving one step closer to surpassing Sea Bird a distinct possibility.
To wrap up the sporting theme, at the World Open in Glasgow almost two years ago, in a match against Mark King, Ronnie O'Sullivan was all set to walk away from a final black until asked to oblige by referee Jan Verhaas, later stating that without financial bonus achieving 147s just doesn't "buzz" him in the way they used to. Well, I can assure you, we'll happily take 146 where Frankel's concerned this year and should the undisputed champion of the world manage to nudge his master rating of 143 that little bit further, there are plenty at Timeform Towers who'll be positively electrified.
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
STRONG SUIT 145
SO YOU THINK 145
DUBAWI GOLD 137
RANSOM NOTE 134
RED JAZZ 132
BULLET TRAIN 127
WINDSOR PALACE 125
Adam Brookes (Timeform), betfair.com
16 May 2012