Frankel is the one who got away for John Magnier's line
John Magnier, “The Boss” of Coolmore Stud in Ireland, and I have one thing in common; we are both captivated by the Derby. But for the record, he has won it 11 times and I have won only the race after it, a run-of-the-mill handicap, once.
This year, Sheikh Mohammed’s Military Order will become the 12th brother to emulate his full- or half-sibling, in his case the 2021 winner Adayar, if he triumphs in the Epsom Classic on Saturday week. And both horses are sired by the stallion Frankel, who for Magnier is the one who got away.
Magnier’s extraordinary domination of the bloodstock world, in spite of serious financial competition from the Middle East, was initially enabled by his champion sire Sadler’s Wells. That success was perpetuated by his son, Galileo, whose half-brother Sea The Stars also won the Derby.
But it is now Galileo’s son Frankel who is the most sought-after stallion in Europe and the fact that he stands at the Saudi Arabian-owned Banstead Manor Stud, near Newmarket, and not at Coolmore in Tipperary, is down to a “toss-of-the-coin” arrangement.
Magnier and the late Prince Khalid Abdullah came to an agreement some years ago that Prince Khalid would send some of his best mares to Galileo and he and Coolmore would take it in turns to have first pick of the yearlings.
The 2018-foaled colt by Galileo out of the mare Kind was destined to be the heir to his father’s throne, and it so happened it was the prince’s turn to pick first in 2009. Not only was he an extraordinary racehorse who will be remembered for sending the late Sir Henry Cecil out in a blaze of glory, Frankel is passing that ability on to his stock.
But breeding horses is an inexact science. Kind had three other foals by Galileo and none of them threatened to emulate their younger brother. Compared to Frankel’s Racing Post rating of 143, Noble Mission made it to a respectable 123, Chiasma 90 but Proconsul a meagre 76.
The latter was trained by the French genius Andre Fabre yet managed to win only £919 in place prize money. But as a result of his brother’s feats, he now also stands at stud. Thank you very much.
Magnier may not be the only person entitled to think Frankel was one who got away. Kind was trained by Roger Charlton at Beckhampton, near Marlborough. She won six races, twice at Listed level, so Charlton must have done a fine job with her. He had won the Derby in 1990, his first season training, with Quest For Fame, and its French equivalent three days earlier with Sanglamore, both owned by Prince Khalid.
So one would have thought that given he runs such an exquisite establishment, Charlton might have hoped to have trained Frankel. It is, therefore, fitting that Prince Khalid’s heirs have elected to have Kind’s eighth and final foal, Kingman colt Kikkuli, trained at Beckhampton.
Meanwhile, anyone worried about the state of racing in this country should be cheered by the report of the 1794 Derby, when Daedalus became the first colt to emulate his brother Rhadamanthus’s success (of 1790).
From an initial entry of 49 horses, only four lined up for the race. One was a stablemate of the winner who was not even included in the betting, and the second favourite, by a stallion called Highflyer, did not even have a name at the time. It was the first race of Daedalus’s life and he never won again.
So as far as transparency with the betting public is concerned, things have come a long way in the past 229 years.
Frankel's ownership was a considerably more significant call than Lord Derby’s when he flipped a coin with Sir Charles Bunbury for the right to name a race for three-year-old colts at Epsom over a mile and a half. Thank God his Lordship called “heads”. I am not sure I could have fallen in love with a race called The Bunbury.
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