Frankel run not guaranteed
Connections issue ground warning
Last Updated: October 19, 2012 5:58pm
Frankel: Headline act
Frankel is still set to head a star-studded cast on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday as long as the ground is considered safe for the world's highest-rated racehorse.
The going at the Berkshire track this afternoon eased from soft all round to soft on the straight course and soft, heavy places on the round course after three millimetres of rain.
Although a little more rain is expected before midnight, dry conditions are forecast for race day itself.
"We will look at it in the morning. It depends obviously what happens," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
"What I have always said is that as long as we are happy the ground is safe for Frankel that will be our call.
"We are going to walk it and the intention is to run if we can."
Frankel is unbeaten in 13 starts to date and the Qipco Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter on the round course is likely to be his final racecourse appearance.
Ascot is sold out in the anticipation of Frankel running and clerk of the course Chris Stickels is hoping the slight possibility of the Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt being withdrawn will not materialise.
"We desperately want Frankel to run," he told At The Races.
"We've had some rain this afternoon amounting to three millimetres and I've just changed the ground to straight course soft, round course, soft heavy in places.
"I've made quite clear in the last couple of days that any further rain was likely to bring on heavy places on the round course.
"Sadly we didn't get a drying day today. It was misty and drizzly this morning and the three millimetres of rain this afternoon has just increased some of the moisture content on the round course to make it heavy in places.
"The rain should clear by midnight. It is drying back but the showers are on and off until then. We are not expecting a lot more and then it should be a dry day tomorrow."
Cecil conceded "the adrenalin is going" as the curtain looks set to come down on Frankel's dazzling career.
Despite the four-year-old being crowned joint-champion juvenile in 2010 with Dream Ahead and the undisputed champion three-year-old last year, the 10-times champion trainer feels he is only now reaching his peak.
Asked how he felt ahead of Ascot, Cecil told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The adrenalin is going, we've got him so far unbeaten and I'd like him to win at Ascot. He's getting easier, he used to be difficult, used to pull a lot. He's growing up, he's like me a late developer.
"Because he's growing up he's easier to train so what I ask him to do he does it.
"He's a better horse, he's an improving horse.
"It's been a great honour (to train Frankel), slightly nerve wracking."
Whereas Frankel only ran for the first time over 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International at York, Cirrus Des Aigles is as battle-hardened as they come - a fact which has not escaped Grimthorpe.
He said: "Cirrus Des Aigles has proved himself after the last two or three years.
"He's the defending champion and he came out at Longchamp and was very impressive in the Group Two.
"Certainly he's going to be a horse to be reckoned with."
Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe believes Cirrus Des Aigles may also still be improving, even though he is now a six-year-old.
She said: "Every race he has run in, he always seems to take one step up and he always seems to look his best when he tries something new.
"We ran him over a mile and a quarter in last year's Champion Stakes and we thought that was him at his best.
"Then we ran him over a mile and a half in Dubai, and it looked like that might be his best.
"Last year he wasn't even a Group One winner before the Champion Stakes. He won and he showed that the better the field, the better he is.
"Maybe he's still improving. On Saturday it could be the best in the world over a mile to middle distances against the best over 10 furlongs to a mile and a half.
"Whatever happens, it will be a great experience and we will enjoy it.
"If he wins, I will be pleased, but I won't be surprised.
"My horse has already been beaten and I know his level of ability.
"I'm not scared of Frankel."