sport

Frankel 'just one of the boys'

Frankel's adapting well to life after racing with Banstead Manor Stud reporting enquiries from around the globe for his services as a stallion.

Just two weeks after leaving Sir Henry Cecil's Newmarket stable, the horse regarded by many as the greatest of all time is settling into his surroundings at his owner Prince Khalid Abdullah's premises in Cheveley, just four miles outside the renowned training centre.

His next-door neighbour in a brand-new box is Oasis Dream, already an established stallion, while the likes of Champs Elysees, Dansili and Bated Breath are further down the row of red-brick lodgings.

No other male member of the Juddmonte band has, though, arrived with such a gilded reputation or would have been able to command a fee of 125,000 with their prowess unproven.

But breeders are already queuing up with blue-blooded mares, and such names as Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream, Stacelita, Zagora and Vodka are already scheduled to meet him between mid-February and June next year.

"He's the most intelligent horse, very curious to see what's going on," said Banstead's general manager, Philip Mitchell.

"He's settled in well and is just one of the boys. He's no longer up there (at the top), he's the new kid on the block."

Mitchell knows there is no guarantee Frankel will be a hit at stud, as the likes of George Washington and Starspangledbanner failed because of fertility issues and many others have not passed on their ability.

"You've got to be realistic," he said.

"The statistics tell us only one in nine or 10 horses to go to stud are successful.

"But not every horse is going to cover the class of mare Frankel will.

"Dansili started at 8,000 and now he's up to 80,000. He didn't start off with the best of mares, but he has done it the hard way."

Mitchell went on: "This horse is the ultimate and he just has the most wonderfully intelligent outlook on life.

"There has been an incredible amount of interest from as far afield as America and Japan, while we have also been approached by Australian breeders.

"He is at his highest point of interest at the moment, but we want to develop relationships so that people keep coming back.

Many of those mares will be from the highest echelons of Abdullah's own business, and Mitchell said: "It's early days, we haven't done the matings, but he'll be getting first pick. You can't ignore Dansili and Oasis Dream, but we will give Frankel every opportunity at stud.

"His Highness believes if you don't support the stallion yourself, you can't expect other people to."

Frankel looked relaxed when paraded on his own at the stud on Thursday and was certainly one of the coolest when all the resident stallions were asked to stand to attention together, just twitching his ears slightly when others were far more flustered by the sound of wind rustling through nearby trees.

The four-year-old is also on a new exercise regime now, as stud manager Simon Mockridge explained.

"There are differences," he said. "You are training a horse to be supremely fit, so he spent some time at Sir Henry's being 'let down' before he came here.

"As soon as he arrived, he's been hand-walked for an hour and a half or so every day, covering about seven miles around the farm.

"He's going to be doing an incredible amount during the stallion season - he will cover between 125 and 130 mares next year - and it takes a lot out of them.

"He will continue with his exercise and in January he will be gradually introduced to a mare."

Even Frankel's diet has changed from the much-quoted statistic of 23lb of Canadian oats, the equivalent of 600 Weetabix a day.

Mockridge said: "He will have a lower amount of protein now and will have a combination of oats and stallion mix, which includes molasses, maize, peas and all sorts of things. He doesn't mind - you put it in front of him and he eats it."

Aside from the television cameras, one person to cast a nostalgic eye over Frankel was Sandeep Gauravaram, his devoted groom for Cecil.

Asked how life post-Frankel was, an admittedly cheery Gauravaram said: "Boring. I won't get another like him."