It was billed as a two-horse "Duel on the Downs," but it quickly turned into a brilliant display of sheer talent as Frankel took the lead from the start and never looked back, flying home to take the $468,000 QIPCO Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) at Glorious Goodwood July 27 by five lengths.
The 3-year-old son of Galileo remains undefeated in eight career starts, and boasts earnings of $1,317,730. It was a record sixth Sussex win for trainer Sir Henry Cecil, who last captured the race in 1997 with Ali-Royal.
A field of four went to post in the Sussex, but all eyes were on Frankel and his older rival Canford Cliffs. The Richard Hannon-trained Canford Cliffs entered the race riding a five-race, group I-winning streak. Canford Cliffs was attempting a repeat win in the Sussex, having defeated Rip Van Winkle last year. The 4-year-old’s most recent win was a one-length tally over champion Goldikova in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
The field was rounded out by Godolphin’s group I winner Rio de La Plata and the French invader Rajsaman, a group II winner conditioned by Freddie Head.
Jockey Tom Queally took the initiative and sent Frankel to the front right out of the gate. They were tracked closely by Richard Hughes and Canford Cliffs, and the race looked to be a chess match between the two riders from the outset. Queally had Frankel traveling along at a comfortable gallop throughout the early stages as Canford Cliffs continued to sit just behind him in second.
With two furlongs left to run, Queally gave Frankel a slight nudge and the response was immediate, as Frankel accelerated and quickly opened up several lengths on the field. Hughes was working hard aboard Canford Cliffs, but the colt had no response and began to drift sharply to the left as they neared the wire.
In the end it was Frankel crossing the line well in front while under a hand ride. Canford Cliffs was second, with Rio de La Plata finishing another 2 1/2 lengths further back in third. The final time for the eight furlongs was 1:37.47 over the good turf course.
Queally, who has ridden Frankel in all of his career starts, said, “He was amazing today and I’m fortunate to be a small part of it. He’s the best horse I have ever sat on and the best I have ever seen.”
Prince Khalid Abdullah, who bred and races Frankel under his Juddmonte Farm banner, said after the Sussex that he rates his star colt higher than his homebred champion Dancing Brave.
Trainer Cecil put Frankel right up there with the best he has ever seen, rating the great Shergar as the only other horse that impressed him as much. “It’s been a marvelous day,” Cecil said. “He’s a very, very good horse; probably the best I’ve ever seen.”
Frankel was named after the late Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who trained Juddmonte’s U.S.-based horses. The bay colt was bred in England and is out of the stakes-winning Danehill mare Kind.