Legendary | Frankel, one of the most storied horses in the history of racing and one of the best of the new century, retired undefeated following his Champion Stakes victory (Image | Getty)
In the space of less than two weeks, horse racing has lost the two biggest jewels in its crown.
While flat racing fans look ahead gloomily to the post-Frankel era, national hunt fans lament the loss of Kauto Star – two of the most dominant horses in a golden era for racing.
Somewhat inevitably, Prince Khalled Abdulla retired Frankel immediately after his victory in the Champion Stakes on 20 October.
The four-year-old finished his career thirteen races unbeaten, notching up a remarkable nine consecutive Group One victories, including the 2000 Guineas and cementing his place as the world’s best racehorse.
A Royal occasion | This year’s events at Ascot put some credibility back into a sport damaged by the events of the past 12 months. (Image | IB Times)
Horse racing has not had the easiest year. The sport was much maligned for the death of five horses during the Cheltenham Festival, and things did not improve in April. In front of 11m viewers, the Grand National took the lives of a further two horses, including Gold Cup champion Synchronised. While deaths are not uncommon in horse racing, the fatalities were too public to be ignored and the ensuing storm of negativity threatened the very existence of not only the Grand National, but horse racing in general.
However, horse racing donned its tin hat, as it has done several times in the past, and weathered the barrage of public outrage. The reward for its loyal followers was Royal Ascot. This year’s meeting was one of the greatest in living memory. From Frankel to fashion, Royal Ascot 2012 oozed class and charisma, and provided the perfect antidote to horse racing’s struggles.
Undefeated Australian horse Black Caviar has arrived in England ahead of Ascot in good health after a 30-hour stable to stable journey.
The arrival of Australian “wonder mare” Black Caviar should have been met with universal excitement; however, amid the obvious anticipation for her first run on British soil at Royal Ascot on 23 June, there was an unavoidable undertone of disappointment.
In the eyes of some horse racing fans (especially those here in Britain), the sole purpose of Caviar’s epic 30-hour journey (aided by her quirky “wet suit”) was to challenge the might of Sir Henry Cecil’s, Frankel, in one of the most eagerly anticipated equine battles in living memory. Therefore, armed with the knowledge that the super clash would not occur, some British fans have been left underwhelmed by the coming of the imperious mare.