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Last Updated: May 19, 2012 10:53pm
Frankel: Imperious on his return
Frankel annihilated the opposition in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
The world's highest rated horse was imperious on his return in the Group One mile contest at the Berkshire venue to banish any lingering fears of an earlier injury scare which had some reporters announcing his retirement prematurely.
Reported to be a calmer, stronger, more mature individual than at three, he settled well under a tight reign for regular pilot Tom Queally behind the pace set by his half-brother and stablemate Bullet Train.
His work companion took the field along under sufferance until the final quarter of a mile with Ian Mongan performing the pacemaking role to perfection but Frankel swept past when asked to pick up the bit by Queally.
Excelebration, a Group One winner and a high-class performer in his own right, had shadowed every move made by the favourite with Joseph O'Brien in the plate but simply couldn't live with the son of Galileo.
In the blink of an eye, Frankel put daylight between himself and the opposition and coasted home five lengths clear to extend his winning sequence to 10 and retain his unbeaten record.
Excelebration chased him home and has now finished second to Sir Henry Cecil's colossus on three occasions as well as filling third place in the St James's Palace Stakes.
Excelebration's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, was quick to pay tribute saying: "Frankel is a great horse, isn't he?
"It's great for everyone, but I'm delighted for Henry, for Tom, the Prince and everybody involved with him.
"Marco Botti did a great job with Excelebration last year and we didn't come here under any illusions.
"He had a nice run at the Curragh last time and we looked forward to coming here.
"A mile has been his trip so far, but I don't know where we'll go next."
Dubawi Gold, second to Frankel in last year's 2000 Guineas, returned to form after two lacklustre runs to finish third.
Queally said: "It's a great relief he's come back. It's great to be on board.
"He's grown up from last year, he's thicker set. "If you look at him now, he's the real deal - he's filled out since last year.
"He showed that burst of acceleration. He's not like anything I've sat on before."
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, had warned the other runners that Frankel would bring his A-game to the races saying you "either bring your best or you don't bother at all" but Frankel's trainer believes that there is even more to come.
"He always takes a little bit of a hold, but he quickened up so well." said Cecil.
"The first race is never his best race, he always improves for the race.
"He's done everything right considering he was sidelined.
"He's in the two (Queen Anne Stakes and the Prince of Wales's Stakes) at Ascot and we'll take it step by step.
"I'm delighted for the Prince (Khalid Abdullah) and the staff. It was nice."
"Every sport, they need a champion. It gets everyone involved and it's good for racing."
Frankel was already the world's highest-rated racehorse before his Lockinge success - his sixth triumph at the highest level.
Winner of the Dewhurst Stakes to cap his juvenile season, Frankel posted four more group One victories last season in the 2000 Guineas, St James's Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
His latest devastating display is a world away from the scare just over a month ago when his racing career was in the balance after he suffered a leg injury.
Thankfully for all racing fans, as well as his sporting connections, he received the all-clear to carry on following a positive scan a week later.
Although Frankel missed 10 days' work, his preparation for the Lockinge went to perfection after that with a couple of racecourse gallops at Newmarket helping to bring him to peak fitness for his first run of the year.
The remarkable son of Galileo is now in line to run at Royal Ascot next month, where he will take up an engagement in either the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes of the Prince of Wales's Stakes over 10 furlongs.
Cecil said: "He's in the two (races) at Ascot and we'll take it step by step.
"He has definitely got stronger this year and you have to be thrilled with him as when you have a hiccup in the lead-up to the race then it is not very funny and it has not been straightforward.
"He has had a good blow afterwards and, looking at his career so far. he has always improved from his first race and you would expect him to do the same.
"The last few weeks have not been very straightforward and I am very happy for the Prince and I am very lucky to have the horse.
"It is lovely for racing and thank goodness that he came through the setback."