GLORIOUS GOODWOOD: It’s Frankel’s day - and will forever be remembered so

Richard Hughes on his way to victory aboard Chandlery - but he was out of luck on Canford Cliffs in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes
Richard Hughes on his way to victory aboard Chandlery - but he was out of luck on Canford Cliffs in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes

It was billed as the Duel on the Downs - in the end it was more like the one-horse dash on the Downs.

Everyone knew before the QIPCO Sussex Stakes, Frankel was a superb horse - a freak, some say.

Now thousands at Goodwood have had it confirmed in the most emphatic fashion before their very eyes as he left Canford Cliffs and Richard Hughes, such a popular winner of this race last year, trailing five lengths behind.

There will be plenty of seasoned Goodwood race-goers who have been going to Glorious for years who have never seen a horse quite like this one, and plenty who never will again - unless, that is, Frankel himself happens to return to defend his Sussex Stakes crown next year.

If anything, the scenes in the winner’s enclosure afterwards were as special as the race itself, if not more so.

Frankel and his jockey Tom Queally were given the most rapturous reception imaginable - and there were a raucous three cheers for trainer Sir Henry Cecil which had him looking like there was a tear in his eye.

Sir Henry said: I think he’s the best I’ve ever seen. I suppose the only ones I could compare would be Shergar and Blushing Groom at his best. I can’t go back to the days of Tudor Minstrel and match races, but he’s the best in my lifetime.”

Cecil was asked whether he was surprised by the display. “It sounds awful, but no. My job was done and it was a bit like going to the dentist’s beforehand, just waiting for it to be over.

“I did think he could win very easily, but I thought I’d let the horse do the talking. I do think the world of him, and I’ve got to thank the Prince and all those involved with him. He’s a much better horse now than earlier in the year, he’s still improving.”

Frankel’s owner Prince Khalid Abdullah said: “I think he is the best I’ve ever had - including Dancing Brave. Even from the beginning, Henry said he was the best and I followed him. Henry thought he was going to run better than he had at any other place and he was right.”

Frankel is set to continue running as a four-year-old - which could mean a Sussex Stakes return next year, and even this far out few would bet against him retaining this crown.

The defeated Canford Cliffs camp were magnanimous in their praise of Frankel.

Trainer Richard Hannon said: “That wasn’t his run. I know one horse had to win and one had to lose, but we’ll have to have another go at him. Either Frankel is just unbeatable or we should have been closer.

“I don’t think Goodwood is his track. He doesn’t like going downhill, so we’ll see. We scoped him and blood tested him and everything is perfect inside. I wouldn’t be worried on a decent track to have another go.”

In a sense, the rest of the card didn’t seem to matter - but that should not detract from another cracking day’s contests.

To complete a day to cherish for Queally, he completed a double in the last, the EBF Nayef Fillies’ and Mares Stakes, on Askaud. Silvestre de Sousa on Totheendoftheearth was second.

And the day wasn’t a complete washout for Hannon and Hughes, who are still the top operators at the festival so far following a victory with Chandlery takes the Vintage Stakes, from stable-mate Rockinante. He made all to land the Group 2 race and justify 5/2 favouritism.

Hollins - a 20/1 shot - won the Goodwood Stakes over a marathon two miles and five furlongs with Paul Hanagan on board. He got the better of Seaside Sizzler in a fighting finish.

The UBS Stakes went to Whiplash Willie, trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by David Probert. Ryan Moore notched his third second place of the festival on Arch Fire couldn’t quite force the issue on the line.

The Markel International Maiden Fillies’ Stakes went to Goodwood fans’ favourite Frankie Dettori and Rakasa, but there was no flying dismount in the winner’s enclosure afterwards - he has been taking painkillers and is strapped up after his nasty fall from Rewilding at Ascot.

Dettori, one of four jockeys involved in the earlier Sussex Stakes, also paid tribute to ‘phenomenal’ Frankel and said: “We’ll be talking about that for years.”

The Harwoods EBF Hellvelyn Classified Stakes brought a first success of the week for Kieren Fallon on the Mark Campion-trained Webbow. The 10/3 favourite Common Touch (Paul Hanagan) was second.

* Don’t miss our live coverage of day three - Ladies’ Day - on this website. We’ll have all the usual tips, going updates, reports, reaction and gossip. And we’ve the first Celebrity Ladies’ Race to look forward to.

STEVE BONE