|Frankel targeted at York's Juddmonte International|
In the immediate aftermath of his heart-stopping seventh successive career victory in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot, all the talk was of where the mighty Frankel may go next, with the main options appearing to be the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood or the Juddmonte International Stakes at York's Ebor fixture in August, writes Elliot Slater.
Most people had anticipated another wide margin success for Sir Henry Cecil's unbeaten son of Galileo and for a while that looked a distinct possibility as Tom Queally darted the three-year-old into a six-length lead approaching the final two furlongs. Whether he was getting tired inside the distance or just idling (as both Cecil and Queally insisted), Frankel's stride shortened dramatically in the final 150 yards as the Aidan O'Brien-trained Zoffany came from last place with a withering run that only failed to catch the Prince Khaled Abdullah-owned superstar by three-quarters of a length. Excelebration ran a mighty race to be a close third for Marco Botti. It would have been a huge upset had Frankel been defeated given the horse racing odds made him a strong odds-on favourite.
Queally has subsequently come in for plenty of media criticism with many believing he made his move too soon, but the fact remains that Frankel won yet another top class event and now the prospect of him stepping up to 10 furlongs in the multi-generational Juddmonte International (a race sponsored by his owner) at York is exciting race fans eagerly waiting to see if he can prove his versatility with regard to stepping up to middle distances. It will be interesting to see if future horse racing tips will suggest he is still invincible after his scare yesterday.
The alternative target for Frankel is a first clash with older horses over a mile in the Sussex Stakes, a race that is already on the agenda of another superstar, Canford Cliffs, who earlier on the opening day of Royal Ascot got the better of a titanic tussle with French legend Goldikova in a memorable Queen Anne Stakes.