On a day in which Chelsea achieved the improbable in Munich, Leinster were crowned masters of European rugby union, and West Ham returned to the promised land, Frankel’s return at Newbury on Saturday could easily have fallen off the sporting radar.
Happily for racing, even those with barely a passing interest in thoroughbreds were jolted to attention by his ludicrously easy victory in the JLT Lockinge Stakes.
Sir Henry Cecil’s freakishly talented four-year-old was bidding to maintain his unbeaten record, and clocked up a perfect 10 under Tom Queally as the 2-7 favourite beat old foe Excelebration by five lengths.
The return of last year’s 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace, Sussex Stakes and QEII winner had been anticipated all through the winter, but his loyal fanbase had their mettle tested when Cecil last month revealed the immaculate son of Galileo had suffered a setback.
Typical of his star quality, though, Frankel was soon back in full work and resumed winning ways just five weeks later. Cecil’s pre-race tactics were executed to perfection with Frankel following the fellow Khalid Abdullah-owned Bullet Train through the early part of the race before quickening away with over a furlong to run.
Excelebration had three times finished in the wake of Frankel when in the excellent care of Marco Botti last season, but even the move to Irish supremo Aidan O’Brien failed to squeeze out the necessary improvement as the recent Curragh winner was hopelessly adrift at the line.
Cecil said: “He is stronger this year and Tom said his acceleration is incredible.
“The last few weeks have not been very straightforward and I am very happy for the Prince and I am very lucky to have the horse.”