Set for a fond farewell
As we get ready to say farewell to one of the best horses we are ever likely to see in Frankel this weekend, is there a superstar waiting in the wings to take his place?
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Yes, Sir Henry Cecil's unbeaten wonder horse bows out at Ascot this Saturday on Champions Day, and although from a personal point of view it would have been great to see him either in last week's Arc or at the Breeders' Cup next month he's had a fantastic career and we're all very lucky to have seen him race - we'll just have to wait a few years to see how his offspring perform.
However, flat racing fans might not have to wait too long in finding a replacement at the top table as Jim Bolger's unbeaten Dawn Approach is certainly looking every inch the superstar each time we see him on the track.
He's now notched up six wins from his six starts, with the most-recent being an easy Dewhurst Stakes win, a race that the mighty Frankel took in 2010, at Newmarket last Saturday. That effortless victory saw the firms slash his 2,000 Guineas odds to 5/1 (3/1 in places), while his Epsom Derby price is now as low as 7/1 with some layers.
Godolphin snapped up the colt earlier this season, but what's great news is that Sheikh Mohammed has already resisted the temptation to transfer his new recruit to one of his Newmarket-based yards - instead opting to keep Dawn Approach in his familiar surroundings with Bolger.
Moving back to Champions Day at Ascot this weekend and with Frankel already as short as 1/10 for The Champions Stakes then it should be a fairytale ending to his career, but although it's hard to envisage anything but a 14th straight win for Cecil's charge if recent Prix Dollar winner Cirrus Des Aigles turns up as expected then he might just know he's been in a race. The French-trained 6 year-old is right out of the top draw and after a 9 length romp at Longchamp earlier this month he comes here in cracking form, while let's not forget he took this race 12 months ago when he lowered the colours of So You Think and Snow Fairy.
Away from the flat and after last weekend the National Hunt action was ramped-up another notch with several big names making their seasonal reappearances. Sizing Europe also made light work of the perennial bridesmaid Forpadydeplasterer at Gowran Park the week before and despite the fact he'll be 11 years-old come the Cheltenham Festival will be a leading player for the Champion Chase once again.
Over at Chepstow last Saturday we saw Paul Nicholls' Hinterland record an easy win over hurdles, but we are probably more likely to see him over fences in the coming months with the Arkle, a race he's currently 16/1 for, looking the obvious target.
The other big name on show was Fingal Bay, who had to miss last season's Cheltenham Festival due to injury. He was making his fencing debut at the Welsh track and although this main rival in the betting, Poungach, took an early tumble I thought he jumped well, but will, of course, come on bundles for not only the experience but also the fact that was his first run since Aintree.
He's sure to be aimed at the RSA Chase and is already joint-favourite with Boston Bob at around 8/1.
This Friday and Saturday we see the first Cheltenham meeting of the new season so expect plenty more familiar names to be heading to the track, while it's always a couple of days that can throw-up several pointers to next month's Paddy Power Meeting.
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