The wait goes on for Frankel’s first European Group 1 winner. A popular version of the script had his son Eminent taking last Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, but it was not to be. The colt that has had so much expectation laid upon him over the past three months was once again found wanting at the very highest level.
Undoubtedly Frankel will get that elusive G1 score before long, and maybe it will indeed be New Zealander Sir Peter Vela’s colt who gets it right in the end. Of course, Frankel already has two G1 notches under his saddle, both courtesy of the superb Japanese filly Soul Stirring, winner of the mile-and-a-half Japanese Oaks in May and the chief reason why the mighty champion is already #21 in the world sires’ rankings.
This, of course, puts him well clear in the race to be the leading second-season sire, and this in a year in which some of his (distant) racecourse rivals, like Nathaniel and Excelebration, have also made impressive marks in their own sophomore years.
Nathaniel has already sired first European classic winner (Enable in the Epsom Oaks - and she’s a 2-5 shot to follow up in the Irish equivalent on Saturday), which has elevated him to #139 in the global standings. Excelebration stands at #122, thanks largely to the achievements of Godolphin’s Royal Ascot G1 winner Barney Roy, who was touched off a nose in the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday. These are high positions indeed for stallions with little more than one crop representing them in Group and Graded races.
But the main opposition to Frankel at the top of the second-season order is neither of these. Rather a lower-profile stallion has become the surprise (for some) success story of the cohort.
Helmet was a pretty fine racehorse, mind. The four G1 successes the son of Exceed And Excel achieved in Australia included the Caulfield Guineas. In his last race (after he was bought by Godolphin and shipped to the Northern Hemisphere) he finished midfield as Frankel pulverized the field in the 2012 G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot (Excelebration was 11 lengths second).
But Helmet is giving them a run for their money now as a Darley stallion. He stands at #58, having climbed 14 places in the latest edition after a four-point week-on-week gain thanks to the easy G1 Prix Jean Prat victory at Chantilly on Sunday of his main breadwinner so far, the Godolphin colt Thunder Snow.
Helmet isn’t relying on just one horse for his position, though. A number of quality Group performers have been running for him in both Europe and Australia, and his success trajectory is likely to go on rising after this great start to his stud career.
Finally, though, let’s go back once more to Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse, when Barney Roy went close and Eminent wasn’t quite good enough.
Favourite for the race, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Epsom Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, finished fourth after being badly hampered early in the race. Cliffs Of Moher is a son of the world’s #1 sire, Galileo. The result shows just how far young stallions like Frankel, Helmet, Excelebration and Nathaniel have to go to take a place alongside the very best. The horse that beat them all was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained, Niarchos family-owned Ulysses. His sire? Galileo, of course.
Click here for a list of the week’s biggest points gainers.
Click here for a list of the week’s Group and Graded winners.