GBI Racing media release:
Sir Henry Cecil has admitted Frankel will be heading into the unknown in Saturday’s Group 1 Champion Stakes if the ground turns heavy.
Frankel will face just five rivals on Saturday, headed by last year’s winner Cirrus Des Aigles, in the highlight of a glittering British Champions Day card at Ascot.
Ascot has been hit by consistent rain in the build up to Champions Day and following another five millimetres overnight, clerk of the course Chris Stickels has mentioned the possibility of further rain on already soft ground.
Frankel risks his perfect 13 from 13 record at the weekend but not since he made his debut has he raced on ground worse than good to soft.
Cecil has no worries if the ground were to stay as it is, but he would be slightly nervous about how he would perform on anything worse.
“I’m pretty confident he will be fine in soft ground but if it’s heavy, we are in no man’s land,” said Cecil. “He has never encountered it and with his action and turn of foot, I cannot be sure he would appreciate it.”
The 10-furlong test is expected to be the four-year-old’s final start before he retires to stud.
John Gosden’s Eclipse winner Nathaniel likes to get his toe in and he remains the horse to have got closest to Frankel when beaten just half a length on their respective debuts at Newmarket in 2010.
The German Derby winner Pastorius is another new rival for Frankel while Master Of Hounds will have his second run for William Haggas having won in Turkey on his first start for his new trainer.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, sponsored by QIPCO
Excelebration heads a field of eight declared for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, sponsored by QIPCO. The four-year-old, trained by Aidan O’Brien, has been beaten five times by Frankel and has the chance to prove himself the top miler in Europe without having to take on his nemesis, who runs in the Champion Stakes instead.
Excelebration won the Prix Jacques le Marois in good style on his latest start from Roger Charlton’s Cityscape and the John Gosden-trained Elusive Kate, who are in opposition once more.
The Queen is represented by Carlton House, who disappointed in the Summer Mile on this course when dropped in distance from a mile and a quarter.
Brian Meehan’s Most Improved won the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting and bids to bounce back to form after two subsequent defeats.
Side Glance, Sovereign Debt and German challenger Indomito complete the line-up.