Ed Chamberlin: Frankel focus
Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to Frankel's final race and the weekend's Premier League action in his latest blog.
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Saturday is 'farewell to Frankel' day at Ascot. What a magnificent horse he has been. Ascot is sold out for the occasion and I hope he wins by a mile again and gets the send-off he richly deserves.
The debate will then rage on as to whether he is the best racehorse of all-time. I have no idea whether he is but I do know that people are prone to get carried away as alongside the best ever flat horse we apparently also currently have the best national hunt horse ever in Kauto Star and the sport's greatest ever jockey in Tony McCoy. Is racing really that lucky right now?
I fear people have too recent a memory as it's also argued that we are also currently witnessing the greatest footballer ever in Lionel Messi, the best golfer in Tiger Woods, best batsman in Sachin Tendulkar, swimmer in Michael Phelps, athlete in Usain Bolt, tennis player in Roger Federer and the list goes on.
It's the plague of 'recency'. We can't possibly have the best of everything and comparing horses and athletes in the past is virtually impossible anyway. I'm sure Frankel is 'one' of the greatest we have seen and should be cherished.
My sadness about Frankel is that he's never quite captured the average sports fan's imagination. Certainly no one in our office is discussing his last appearance on a racecourse in the Champions Stakes on Saturday like they would the Grand National or Kauto Star v Denman.
"If only Frankel had a rival. In the Gold Cup everyone either sided with Kauto Star or Denman and the media helped to hype up the race. His brilliance wows the sport's aficionados but routing similar horses over and over again does not capture a sports fan's imagination."
Some are saying Saturday is his toughest task to date but Nathaniel was on a similar level to Farrh in the Eclipse, who Frankel dismissed with ease, while last year's winner Cirrus Des Aigles is rated on a similar level to Frankel's perennial whipping boy Excelebration and Sussex Stakes victim Canford Cliffs.
Therefore, strictly on ratings, it's more of the same in the Champion Stakes, though I do think Cirrus Des Aigles is definitely the one to chase the great horse home.
Might heavy ground stop him? No chance. I think Frankel would act in cement and he has extraordinarily big feet which gives him a big advantage in deep ground. If it's very soft on Saturday I just think it means he will win by even further.
My best best on a brilliant Champions Day card is Most Improved in a pretty average renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The Brian Meehan team thought this horse could be special at the start of the year and he was gambled on to win the Guineas before misfortune struck and he had to be taken out of the race.
Most Improved hasn't lived up to his name and has been hit and miss since but crucially round a track that throws up 'Ascot specialists' he has course and distance form having won the St James' Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting in June. He came good this time last year so has a lot going for him, including the bang in form Richard Hughes booked to ride him.
In a race in which the main contenders that all have question marks against them, Most Improved looks a big each-way price at 14/1 with Sky Bet.
Prior to the international break, the Premier League hit the pause button on a high with all the title contenders making statements. It's going tobe fascinating to see if they can all find their stride immediately again as the top-flight swings back in to action.
- Premier League
Sky Sports' coverage kicks off with Tottenham (6/4 to win with Sky Bet) v Chelsea (13/8).
Two bang in form sides both playing some really good football and Sky Bet are struggling to split them. It's a very tough one to call and a fascinating contest, though if Chelsea repeat the professional performance they produced at the Emirates, it's hard to see them being beaten.
On a fascinating day at the top of the table, Manchester City (4/6) face another big test on the road as they travel to West Brom (4/1), who have won four out of four so far at the Hawthorns in impressive fashion, while Manchester United (2/7) host Stoke (9/1).
I'm heading to Loftus Road for two good games on Super Sunday. First a Tyne-Wear derby - Sunderland (6/4) v Newcastle (13/8), which looks as tough a game to call as Saturday's match at White Hart Lane. This is the first Premier League game for both teams since they suffered 3-0 defeats at the hands of the Manchester clubs.
After that it's QPR (21/10) against Everton (6/5). .
This has been QPR's worst ever start after seven games of a league season. In contrast, win on Sunday and it will be Everton's best ever start after eight games of a Premier League season and best since the equivalent of 18 points from their opening eight games of the 1978-79 season when they finished fourth under Gordon Lee.
However, QPR have won more Premier League games (6), won more PL points (20) and scored more PL goals (23) against Everton than they have against any other side. They will have their work cut out to extend that record on Sunday. I hope you'll be able to join us for Super Sunday from 1pm on Sky Sports 1HD.