Sire in the Spotlight: Frankel

Vanessa Ryle profiles the great Frankel, a stallion whose stud career is starting to emulate his exploits on the racecourse.

  • Monday 11 February
  • Blog
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Frankel’s racing career isn’t a complex one to understand; 14 races resulted in 14 wins and, by the end of it, common consensus was that he was the best horse seen on a British racecourse for many years.

Trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil and ridden in all his races by Tom Queally, Khalid Abdullah’s bay was a champion at two, three and four-years-old.

As a Juvenile, Frankel shared the top honours with Dream Ahead, and first showed a glimpse of what was to come when striding to a 10-length victory in Ascot’s Royal Lodge Stakes before crowning his season with an impressive win in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

As a three-year-old he announced himself as something extraordinary with a dominant win in the 2000 Guineas – memorably establishing a 15-length lead at half-way – and went on to record impressive wins against the older generation in the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Had Frankel been retired at that stage he would have no doubt been considered a ‘great’ but many would have questioned any claims to him being ‘greatest’; his four-year-old season changed all that.

Kept to a mile for his first three races, comfortable wins in the Lockinge Stakes and Sussex Stakes were overshadowed by an almighty 11-length triumph in Royal Ascot's Queen Anne. 

Stepped up to a mile and a quarter for his last two starts, Frankel trounced Fahrr and St Nicholas Abbey in York’s Juddmonte International before showing he hard heart to match his class when defeating multiple Group 1 winners Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel on ground that was too soft for him to show his best asset – that blistering turn of foot - in the Champion Stakes.

His trainer, the late Sir Henry Cecil, who was well known for his modesty, remarked after that final victory: “He’s the best I’ve ever had and the best I’ve ever seen. I’d be very surprised if there has ever been better.” 

Frankel’s unbeaten record was achieved over three seasons, at seven different tracks, over three different trips, on four different types of ground and 10 of them were at Group 1 level, beating his rivals by a collective margin of 76 lengths.

Frankel wins the 2000 Guineas
Frankel strides home in the 2000 Guineas.

Boasting such an impeccably perfect racing record means that it is near impossible for Frankel to soar to the same heights in his second career as a stallion. He was regularly described by those around him and the racing public as a “freak of nature” and “one in a million”. Both those statements are probably true but neither are actually ideal when a racehorse goes to stud as the aim is for a stallion to stamp his offspring with similar traits to himself. The quite literal million-dollar question was: Would Frankel be able to pass on his brilliance to his progeny?

By Galileo and out of Kind, from a beautifully-bred Juddmonte family, in his first season standing at Banstead Manor stud, for a fee of £125,000, he covered 133 mares in total, including Group 1 winners such as Danedream and Midday plus multiple other black-type winners. It was the sort of first season book that was so saturated with class that any stallion would have been blessed to have received. Naturally, this meant he was given the best chance possible to succeed in his second career at the entry stage. That first crop truly hit the ground running with four of Frankel’s first five runners winning on debut as two-year-olds and the crop has since yielded no fewer than 23 black type winners. 

To put that into context, below is the same 2014 foal crop table with his own sire, the mighty Galileo, added in for comparison purposes.

Perhaps the most impressive statistics are Frankel’s black type winners/runners percentage, noticeably higher than Galileo’s but perhaps only what some may have expected having seen the standard of mares that were sent to him in that first year. The sample size is still relatively small and with only three crops of foals on the ground to survey, and the eldest of them still only four-year-olds at the end of the 2018 season, we are still waiting on more data to make continuous comparisons to other super sires but it is fair to say he he’s made a very strong start.

Looking at the above chart showing the following two crops, it will be interesting to see how those born in 2015 fair this coming season as they reach the racecourse as four-year-olds given that 2018 proved a stellar year for his 2014 crop.

Call The Wind won the Group 1 Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp as a four-year-old. Cracksman, trained by John Gosden and officially Frankel’s highest rated son, won his first Group 1 in the October of his three-year-old career, and latterly went on to add three more Group 1 wins to his tally as a four-year-old including a second Champion Stakes. Over in Japan, Mozu Ascot won his Group 1 as a four-year-old in the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.

Dual Champion Stakes winner Cracksman has been Frankel's best offspring to date.

The classy Without Parole, also trained by John Gosden, won his top tier race relatively early compared with those mentioned, scoring in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes last season in June, and stays in training this coming 2019 season. Will he be one to follow in Cracksman’s footsteps and improve as a four-year-old?

It’s not just the older horses that have managed to win at the highest level. Soul Stirring was Frankel’s first winner at Group 1 level when winning the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in Japan back in 2016.

In fact, considering the points made regarding his stock getting better with age, his two-year-old statistics don’t exactly let the side down; 47% overall winners to runners with his juvenile representatives.

To put that into some context, Galileo’s two-year-olds bat at a 35% strike rate while the more precocious stallions with two-year-old aimed stock such as Scat Daddy and his son No Nay Never strike at 54% and 50% respectively.

Frankel has been sent a variety of different mares with across the globe pedigrees but a couple of breeding nicks have been noticeably successful.

  • Offspring out of Kingmambo-sired mares have a 100% winners/runners strike rate; 7 runners, 7 winners - the best being the Group 2 winner Eminent.
  • Offspring out of Pivotal-sired mares have a 85.7% winners/runners strike rate; 7 runners, 6 winners - the best being Group 1 winner Cracksman.
  • Offspring out of Oasis Dream-sired mares have a 70% winners/runners strike rate; 10 runners, 7 winners - the best being the Listed winner Mori.

*Above statistics correct as of 9th Feb 2019.

When it comes to distance and ground, Frankel’s progeny seem to perform over most trips and on most surfaces, from sprinters up to a mile and a half plus, and on ground from good to firm and heavy. Although his lowest percentage strike rate is on heavy ground where he has had 3 winners from 14 attempts, a 21% strike rate.

So what does it cost to get your hands on one of Frankel’s progeny? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a mare who is deemed classy enough on her pedigree page to be accepted to visit him in the covering shed then you would be looking at a stud fee of £175,000 in 2019, staying the same as it was in 2018. 

In the sales ring his overall yearling average is £466,042. His most expensive yearling to go through the sales ring is King Power, a filly who cost 2.5m gns at Tattersalls Book One sale in 2017 and had one run as a two-year-old last year for Andrew Balding, finishing fifth in a Newbury Novice Stakes in October.

Hamish Macauley, like many other bloodstock agents, is only too aware of how hard it is to actually buy the star stallions offspring: “Frankel having a stud fee of £175,000 is going to price most commercial breeders out of him, so only a small proportion of his crop actually turn up at the sales. The small amount of yearlings I have seen by him show a lot of quality and he has shown that on the racetrack with the likes of Cracksman and Without Parole. For any stallion to have 40 100+ rated horses this early in his stallion career is some achievement and I am sure it won’t be long until he gets to the very top of the stallion ranks with his two main rivals – Galileo and Dubawi, who are both getting on in years.”

King Power is just one of many Frankel progeny we have to look forward to in 2019. A whole new two-year-old crop includes offspring out of multiple Group winners. Keep an eye out for the likes of:

  • Dreaming Eyes - A bay filly out of Arc winner Danedream.
  • Unnamed colt out of Dietrich, a two-time Group 3 winner, bred by Coolmore and in training with Aidan O’Brien, a half-brother to multiple Group placed horses and holds a 2020 Derby entry.
  • Tilly Frankl - a bay filly out of Group 1 winner Ribbons, set to be trained by the dam’s trainer- James Fanshawe.
  • Unnamed colt out of Where, bred by Coolmore but interestingly registered as in training with Sir Michael Stoute. Her sister is the Group 3 winning Rain Goddess.
  • Franconia - a bay filly out of Winter Sunrise, who has already produced the Group 1 winning filly Winsili, who was trained by John Gosden.

As with Frankel’s career on the track, his progress in his second career as a stallion is under constant scrutiny but it is fair to say his progeny are doing the talking for him and although it would be pushing it to say he could produce another ‘one in a million’ type like himself, it isn’t a bad start to have a colt like Cracksman in your first crop. 

Sire in the Spotlight: Frankel
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