Many observers have Farhh marked up as a Group 1 winner waiting to happen following an unlucky run in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and a half length second place finish to Nathaniel in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. Those performances might see him go off as favourite in many Group 1 races, but there is no chance of that happening against Frankel.
Simon Crisford, racing manager for Farhh’s owners, Godolphin acknowledged as much yesterday when he said, “I asked Sheikh Mohammed for his preferred option, to go to the Sussex Stakes and finish and finish a good second to Frankel, we hope, if not win, or the Prix Jacques Le Marois and he said, ‘What sort of stupid question is that? I want to go to Goodwood’.”
The two almost raced against each other as juveniles, in what would have been the second time on a racecourse for each of them. That was at Doncaster, but Farhh reared up in the stalls, took an injury and was withdrawn. Frankel, who was odds on to beat him then, went on to win the race by 13 lengths.
The problem for Farhh is that he’s an inexperienced horse, having raced just once in each of his first two seasons, and five times in total. In comparison, Frankel is an old hand who will be defending an unbeaten record of 11 races. Crisford was looking forward to finding out whether Farhh is up to the grade. He said, “He’s still on a learning curve. From our point of view, Farhh has not done enough yet to establish himself as a really true Group 1 horse. He needs to bridge the gap and become a Group 1 winner at some stage. He’s in great form and let’s hope he runs well. It’s a fantastic race and it would be a shame if there were only two or three runners.”
Frankel’s team welcomed the addition of Farhh to the race, but didn’t sound too perturbed that it would trouble their horse. Owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, said, “That’s very good news. We respect him, he was a little bit unlucky at Ascot and he ran a super race at Sandown, so he’s a very legitimate horse. Frankel has still got to put his best foot forward but on everything he’s shown he’s going to be superior to most animals that turn up. But he’s still got to do it. We will take it really seriously and we’re not complacent about it.”
Grimthorpe was clearly confident that we are not on the verge of one of the biggest shocks in racing’s history. He said of Frankel, “He’s certainly going to be the horse to beat, there’s no question about that.”