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“The best I’ve ever had. The best I’ve ever seen”.

Frankel finishes with 14 wins on an emotional day that will forever define the careers of trainer Henry Cecil and Irish jockey Tom Queally.

There were so many moments to savour, ones that made you’d shout, more that made you smile, some that made you sad.

But perhaps it was what happened before the race that captured the essence of this great story best, the moment respectful silence descended blanket-like on Ascot as the champion of Champion’s Day entered the parade ring to saddle-up for the last time.

It almost felt like the grandstand, all two furlongs of it, leaned in for a look, this hulk of metal, glass and bustling excitement startled to a curious tiptoe by the arrival of equine greatness.

There wasn’t so much as a peephole at ground level. Not a slit. Not a sound. Down there, punters stalked the ring’s perimeter, which was 10-deep in parts, looking for weaknesses, places where they could see Frankel, catch a glimpse of the bay coloured wonder horse with the distinctive star emblazoned on his forehead.

With hushed tones, many among a sell-out crowd of 32,000 marvelled at his beauty, hands pointing, brows furrowing.

There was expectation. There was reverence. There was buckets of both, and confidence too.

Even those who couldn’t see…even they knew chapter’s end was going to be a happy one.

It couldn’t be any other way, not this tale threaded by a great trainer whose career was all but finished before fate intervened to gift him what he would later describe as “the best I’ve ever had… the best I’ve ever seen”.

Those cancer-battling whispers of Henry Cecil drew the ear of that leaning grandstand ever closer – his words tinged with the sadness that accompanies serious illness, balanced by the joy that accompanies supreme success.

That was after the race. Post win number 14. Pre a racing future that will forever be measured against Saturday and the 13 other days Frankel ran free… and oh so fast.

But before there were whispers too, reverential ones, necks that craned, stretched and looked at the lolloping head of the four-year-old Bay colt, casually walking the ring…soon to be running down history.

Then the crowd poured back into the grandstand, spilling into every available corner. That was seconds after Waterford native and jockey Tom Queally rode off to meet the setting sun of a partnership that was rising long before Frankel’s stunning 2000 Guineas victory in 2011.

He paraded Frankel in front of the stands, those four white feet cantering a careful series of short steps behind stable-mate and pacemaker Bullet Train. There was Cirrus Des Aigles, Nathaniel, Master of Hounds and Pastorius…

There were other horses sure, but only one contender.

Respectful applause rippled domino like along the grandstand, then Queally quickened around the bend and he was gone, out of sight. He arrived at the starting stalls last, in no rush to get there, or to get out of there it seemed.

Gasps and confused looks accompanied the break.

“HE’S ONLY MISSED IT,” someone shouted.

Yes, Frankel was last. Ian Mongan, on Bullet Train was left looking too, from his position, second to the front of a pack, from the position you expected Frankel to be placed.

But Queally nudged the champion effortlessly up the field, not before Mongan snatched a second look. Just to be sure.

Happier now Mongan squeezed his mount, the pace quickened and the decibel level rose. When Bullet Train hit the runaway button the carriages of Cirrus Des Aigles, Nathaniel and Frankel followed in his gallop-stream.

But round the bend, it was the mud loving Cirrus Des Aigles who hit the front. The back-peddling Bullet Train swopped places with Nathanial, all the while, Queally sat quietly in the saddle, having taken the slightly longer route round the outside.

At the 3f marker a wall of noise hit the field. The shoulders of Olivier Peslier and William Buick were rolling now, both riding off the bridle. Frankel moved to challenge…2.5f…2f…1.5f, upsides Cirrus Des Aigles, but yet to push the turbo button.

Noise poured out of the stand and washed onto a track already rain soaked. At the 1f marker, Queally started to race, the last lengths of a run into history were blurred by waving arms and balling voices.

“He is just getting more and more relaxed as time goes on” said the ice-cool jockey in the Winner’s Enclosure. “He waited until the gates were open then he was away. I was happy all the way but there’s no doubt he’s better on better ground. His class showed today.

“I walked the track and I was a little worried about the conditions. Having walked it in the home straight I knew it wasn’t too heavy for him to quicken up. You want every angle covered, everything in your favour, so in that respect there was always a little worry. But he was in great heart today”.

Has his heart ever been anything else.

 

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London Irish Singles – September MPU

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