Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, under the auspices of Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel was the highest-rated horse in the history of Timeform. In 2012, as a four-year-old, Frankel was awarded a provisional Timeform rating of 147 when winning the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot and the Juddmonte International Stakes at York; his Timeform Annual Rating was confirmed in January, 2013, making him the highest-rated horse – 2lb superior to his nearest rival, 1965 Derby winner Sea-Bird – since Timeform published ‘Racehorses of 1948’ in 1949.
Sired by the 2001 Derby winner Galileo, Frankel was named after the late Robert J. ‘Bobby’ Frankel, one of the most successful American trainers of the last fifty years. He made his racecourse debut in a maiden stakes race at Newmarket in July, 2010, winning readily by half-a-length and so embarked upon a career that would see him hailed as, arguably, the best horse in the history of thoroughbred racing.
Frankel won the first of his ten Group One races in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on his fourth, and final, start as a juvenile, comfortably beating subsequent Criterium International winner Roderic O’Connor by two-and-a-quarter lengths. The following season, having won his preparatory race, the Greenham Stakes at Newbury, by 7 lengths, he was sent off the shortest-priced favourite for the 2,000 Guineas since Apalachee in 1974. Drawn in stall one, on the opposite extreme from his supposed pacemaker, Rerouted, Frankel quickly established a clear lead, which he never relinquished, and passed the post six lengths ahead of his nearest pursuer, Dubawi Gold.
Having put up what was described by one observer as ‘one of the greatest displays on a British racecourse’ – which was greeted by cheering and applause from the knowledgeable crowd fully two furlongs from home – Frankel went on to win another eight races, all at Group One level, to finish his career unbeaten after 14 starts. According to Timeform, he was the best of his generation at two, three and four years, he was named Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Horse of the Year (twice) and, on his retirement from racing in October, 2012, had won nearly £3 million in prize money.