I may have crabbed what Frankel has achieved in the past but after Saturday’s demolition of a good field in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, I now have no reservations in saying that this is the best Flat horse I’ve been lucky enough to watch.
A tardy start at the weekend didn’t help matters and for a brief few seconds turning into the straight, I thought he might be beaten but very quickly you could tell that he was still in cruise control and Tom Queally didn’t need to give him too much encouragement to master Cirrus Des Aigles by a length and three-quarters.
I think that this was his best performance as it came on very soft ground over 10 furlongs and don’t forget that before he won the Juddmonte International at York, we were still questioning whether he might get the trip although wily master trainer Sir Henry Cecil was calmly telling us that he would!
Frankel has cost us about £5 million over the course of his career which averages out at around £360,000 per run. But it’s been money very well spent as he has increased the profile of the Sport of Kings immeasurably and hopefully attracted many new fans to our amazing game.
Down to more mundane matters and I fancy Balmont Mast to land the Listed Mercury Stakes at Dundalk on Friday. The four-year-old impressed me when scooting clear under Johnny Murtagh at the same track earlier in the month, when winning a conditions race by two and a half lengths from Nocturnal Affair.
A quick aside but that victory provided the veteran jockey with his 100th winner at Dundalk, the first rider to achieve such a milestone since the facility was opened in 2007, and Murtagh is one of those horsemen that you never mind seeing jocked up if you’re backing anything. Balmont Mast’s success was all the more meritorious as trainer Edward Lynam explained that he was very heavy that night so he’d be expected to strip even fitter on Friday and I’m not concerned about the step back to 5f as he’s speed to burn and has twice won over that distance.
The day before at Thurles I’m hoping that Colin Bowe will unleash Our Victoria again in the Holycross Mares Chase after she easily won a race against the boys at Navan last month. This Old Vic mare seems to revel on soft surfaces so conditions should be absolutely ideal and although she hasn’t won at this track before, three of her four wins under rules have come on right-handed undulating courses so that shouldn’t be a problem.
I also wouldn’t be overly worried about the fall in trip to 2m 2f from two and a half miles at Navan as she had enough toe to win a Punchestown bumper over this trip and also beat a decent mare in Stephanie Kate over even shorter on her first win over the bigger obstacles.
Bowe thought the selection good enough to pitch into the Kerry National and she can win here.
Turning to the footy I think Stoke will beat Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday at a current 11-10. The away side picked up a late point in their passionate derby game against Newcastle on Sunday which came courtesy of a Demba Ba own goal but the Black Cats are probably getting worried as they’ve only won one of their last 15 Premiership games.
Even worse you have to wonder where a Sunderland goal can come from as Steven Fletcher is the only player to have scored for them this campaign. Stoke played well at Manchester United although poor defending was eventually their downfall but Sunderland are a different proposition.
Thursday Thurles 2.15pm - Our Victoria
Friday Dundalk 8.30pm - Balmont Mast
Saturday 3pm - Stoke to beat Sunderland