This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from David Yates of The Mirror…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!
The Frankel Factor: Why last weekend’s British Champions Day was one of the most satisfying of afternoons
First of all, let’s get one thing straight.
Last Saturday, along with 30-odd thousand others, I went to QIPCO British Champions Day and, in common with the vast majority of them, enjoyed one of the most satisfying afternoons of my racing life.
As you’d expect from a racecourse that handles five days of Royal Ascot every year, the event was put on with assurance and panache, with many of the teething problems from 12 months ago ironed out.
Everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief when Frankel – don’t those antics at the start prove now is the right time to retire? – did what he was supposed to do, and we all went home positively brimming with feelgood.
There is, inevitably, a ‘but’, and it’s this – don’t be fooled into thinking that BCD has arrived . In truth, it still has a long way to go.
And if you think I’m being a sourpuss who is happy only when he’s moaning about something, imagine that it had rained not only Friday afternoon, but during the evening and throughout Saturday morning as well.
Lord Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to the great horse’s owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, walks the course and, against all his competitive instincts and a will for Frankel to go out in a blaze of glory, decides the best thing is for the colt not to run.
Where would that have left us?
Cirrus Des Aigles and Excelebration are both admirable thoroughbreds of the highest merit.
But victory for each in their chosen races, the Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, doesn’t make for headline news, at least outside the racing pages.
And what of the undercard?
The best stayers, many regrettably out of form after a busy summer, turned up, and the sprint amounted to what any other European sprint amounts to when not dominated by horses from the southern hemisphere.
The fillies’ and mares’ race served up a below-par Great Heavens – she’d left her race in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 13 days earlier – but a progressive winner in Sapphire.
And, like many, I’m still baffled for the need to stage the apprentice handicap. Wouldn’t it be more fitting on Newmarket’s Future Champions card?
Taking BCD as a whole – but without Frankel – it wouldn’t get news crews jumping up and down with excitement, which is one of its stated aims.
In short, the day was dangerously close to being a one-horse show.
To balance matters, I know that when BCD was conceived its founders had in mind a five-year plan, and Saturday was just the second year of those five – so there is plenty of scope for further momentum.
But BCD top man Rod Street, whose cheery exterior shouldn’t mask the fact he’s sharp as razor wire, will know much more progress is needed for Ascot to match the status of international fixtures like the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup.
In 2012, it outshone an unusually below-par – even humdrum – Arc weekend.
But it caught Longchamp on a bad year – the French would have had more to shout about if, as intended, Danedream, Snow Fairy and Nathaniel had turned up.
It’s inconceivable Europe’s richest race will suffer similar ill fortune with its leading players in 2013, while BCD will not have Frankel as its poster boy next October.
Don’t get me wrong. With its backing – both in terms of money and personnel – BCD has every chance of getting where we all want it to be.
Just don’t let the heroics of one extraordinary racehorse fool you into thinking it’s already there.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?