Frankel – what have we learned about him this year?

Frankel

Few meaningful conclusions can be drawn about a stallion from the evidence of the performances of his first crop of two-year-olds alone. That, of course, does not stop premature judgements about the merits or otherwise of a first-season sire. Inevitably, Frankel’s first two-year-olds in 2016 were subject to more scrutiny than most, the momentum of interest proving unstoppable as soon as his very first runner Cunco made a winning debut at Newbury.

thebreedingshed provided a summary of his first-crop winners and their prospects here.

A year later, and with his first three-year-olds having run, we’re now in a much better position to assess the early stages of Frankel’s stallion career. The signs are that he’s an immensely promising stallion. With just two crops of racing age, Frankel looks like finishing fourth in the British & Irish stallion table by prize money despite far fewer runners than the three above him, Galileo, Dark Angel and Dubawi. Juddmonte resisted the temptation to increase his £125,000 stud fee despite his excellent start in 2016, awaiting the verdict of a second season’s worth of results before announcing an increase to £175,000 for his services in 2018.

Here’s what we now know about Frankel the stallion.

He can get a top-notcher

One apparent certainty, or at least consensus of opinion, regarding Frankel’s stallion career is that he won’t sire a horse as good as he was himself. But could he even come close and, if so, how long would it take him? The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘not long at all’. Timeform gave Frankel a rating of 143 at the end of his three-year-old season; Cracksman, from his first crop, has a rating of 136 after his seven-length win in the Champion Stakes. Cracksman could yet improve his rating further as a four-year-old – he was clearly a better colt by the autumn than he had been when placed in the Derby and Irish Derby in the summer – which is exactly what Frankel did himself, progressing to a rating of 147 by the time he ended his career with victory in the Champion Stakes as a four-year-old.

 

As has been well documented, Frankel’s first book of mares was full of Group 1 winners and producers but Cracksman’s dam Rhadegunda was neither. She won three races, but didn’t develop quickly enough to be tried in group company of any sort and it wasn’t until the end of November in her three-year-old season that she won her listed race at Fontainebleau on what was her final start. If Frankel’s first genuinely top-class horse had been a product of one of his matings with a star mare then the cynics might have legitimately asked how much of the credit was due to Frankel himself – as Cracksman is out of a ‘mere’ listed winner, it seems Frankel is deserving of plenty.

It’s also worth pointing out that in siring a horse rated higher than 135, Frankel has achieved with his very first crop what his own sire Galileo has only managed to do once (Frankel himself) in the whole of his now lengthy stallion career.

His two-year-olds become better three-year-olds

No surprises there, given how Frankel himself improved from two to three. Cracksman, who won a maiden at Newmarket on his only start at two, is the best example but several more of Frankel’s two-year-old winners of 2016 (listed in this breedingshed article) have gone on to better things this year. Eminent, another maiden winner at two, won the Craven Stakes and Prix Guillaume d’Ornano this year, as well as finishing a place behind Cracksman when fourth in the Derby and third in the Irish Champion Stakes. Cracksman’s stablemate Monarchs Glen, also a maiden winner at two, improved in the autumn to win a listed race at Goodwood and a Group 3 contest at Newmarket. Soul Stirring, who was Frankel’s first Group 1 winner in Japan in 2016, fulfilled hopes that she would become a classic winner when successful in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in May.

Soul Stirring
Japanese filly Soul Stirring was Frankel’s first Group 1 winner in 2016; she went on to win the Japanese Oaks (Yushun Himba)

At least a dozen of Frankel’s three-year-olds who began the season as maidens were successful in 2017. This group included the Prix Daphnis winner Last Kingdom, the Queen’s Vase runner-up Count Octave and the listed runner-up Weekender.

A good number of Frankel’s first crop didn’t reach the racecourse at two but made rapid progress as three-year-olds. Notable among them were Lady Frankel, who became her sire’s best filly in Europe, winning the Prix de Lieurey and finishing third in the Prix de l’Opera. Her stable-companion Finche won the Prix Eugene Adam and finished third to Cracksman in the Prix Niel, while Dream Castle was another to make a winning debut at three, going to finish second in the Greenham Stakes and Topkapi Trophy.

He can get horses who stay further than he raced himself

Frankel didn’t race beyond a mile until he was four and even then was never tried at much beyond a mile and a quarter. He would almost certainly have stayed a mile and a half, a trip that proved no problem for his full brother Noble Mission. While the average winning distance of his progeny is currently 9.6f, plenty of Frankel’s winners have been successful over a mile and a half, among those already mentioned being Cracksman, Soul Stirring and Count Octave. The filly Aljezeera won a listed race at Yarmouth over a mile and three-quarters (also second in the Park Hill Stakes), while Dubawi’s half-brother UAE King won the Brown Jack Handicap at Ascot over two miles.

His second crop of two-year-olds have several promising horses

Three more group-race winners currently figure in Frankel’s second crop of two-year-olds. Two of those are out of classic winners; Somerville Stakes winner Elarqam is out of 1000 Guineas winner Attraction, while the Leopardstown Group 3 winner and Royal Lodge Stakes runner-up Nelson is a son of Irish Oaks winner Moonstone. Futurity Stakes winner Rostropovich, a 1.1m guinea yearling, is a half-brother to the Phoenix Stakes winner Zoffany and from the same family as the French filly Toulifaut who was one of Frankel’s first-crop group winners. Among Frankel’s promising two-year-olds, Herculean, a brother to Frankel’s very first group-race winner Fair Eva, Veracious, a half-sister to group winners Mutakayyef and Intimation, and Contingent, a daughter of Prix Marcel Boussac winner Proportional, have all made debuts suggesting they could make an impact in pattern races themselves.

He has gone global

Frankel appealed to an international clientele of breeders and he has already had winners outside Europe – in the USA, South America (Argentina and Chile), Australia and Japan. The filly Rubilinda, winner of two minor stakes at Belmont, was Frankel’s first winner in the US and was bred by Don Alberto Farm who also bred Frankel’s very first winner Cunco. Frankel’s two Australian winners to date, Merovee and Woman, are both out of More Than Ready mares, the latter a daughter of the Group 1 Flight Stakes winner More Joyous.

However, it’s in Japan that Frankel has made his biggest impact outside Europe. Mi Suerte was his other group-race winner there in 2016 alongside Soul Stirring, but he’s had a handful of winners there now, including two-year-old Tanino Frankel, a 2018 Derby entry who’s out of Japan Cup and two-time JRA Horse of the Year Vodka. Frankel’s popularity in Japan looks sure to grow following his early successes there, and a significant Japanese purchase at Tattersalls October Sale was a Frankel half-sister to Canadian International winner Sarah Lynx for 1.4m guineas.

A 1.4m guinea half-sister to Sarah Lynx and another daughter of Frankel who’ll be racing in Japan

[Soul Stirring image: Ogiyoshisan – sale-ring image: http://www.tattersalls.com]

 

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