No ground fears for Frankel

  • Last Updated: October 15 2012, 17:16 BST

The possibility of soft ground at Ascot on Saturday is not occupying the minds of the Frankel team ahead of the Qipco Champion Stakes.

Frankel: Set to face seven rivals at Ascot

Sir Henry Cecil's superstar is bidding to end his career with win number 14 in a Group One that Cecil has claimed twice in the last three years courtesy of Twice Over.

Cirrus Des Aigles struck in won this race 12 months ago and the French challenger will return to England to defend his title and, with the John Gosden-trained Nathaniel also set to take his chance, Frankel is likely to face the stiffest test of his career.

Although his major challengers are perhaps more at home in the soft ground, connections of the hot favourite are unfazed by the prospect of testing conditions.

"I don't think the ground is a worry," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah.

"He's encountered good to soft and good to firm and handled that well - I wouldn't think soft would be that much of a problem.

"Shane (Featherstonhaugh, work rider) got off him the other day and it was pretty soft and said he handled it pretty well.

"He's been good over the weekend - Henry is very pleased with him.

"He came out of his workout well and on Saturday he did a bit up Long Hill.

"We're very pleased with him and it's all systems go.

"This is his biggest test to date - it's building up to be a real test for him."

Despite Frankel being apparently at the peak of his powers, there seems little chance of him racing again after Saturday.

"I would think this would be his last race," Grimthorpe told At The Races.

"Obviously the ultimate decision is with Prince Khalid, and he'll make that when he's fully ready, but every indication is that this will be his last.

"I've come into this with the attitude that we have to enjoy him and if we spend our life worrying about all the dreadful things that can go wrong then it's going to fade a bit.

"The horse has done everything we could possibly have dreamed about."

Aidan O'Brien's Declaration Of War has won two of his three starts since joining the Ballydoyle ranks from Jean-Claude Rouget and is still in contention to take on Frankel.

The William Haggas-trained Master Of Hounds, Mikel Delzangles' Ridasiyna and Frankel's pacemaker Bullet Train also feature in an eight-strong entry.

Mario Hofer also confirmed the German Derby winner Pastorius is an intended runner.

"Pastorius is coming over for the Champion Stakes," he said.

"He is in very good condition and everything is fine with him. I have seen that the weather forecast is for a little bit of rain and he loves soft ground."


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