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Juddmonte International Stakes 3.40 York 1m2f G1 Live C4/RUK Card page 56 IT WAS 40 years ago, back when the Juddmonte International was sponsored by a tobacco company, that the unbeaten record of Brigadier Gerard went up in smoke.

Four decades later, Frankel, a world champion billed by some as the finest thoroughbred there has ever been, graces the same stage with the sport expectant, excited and desperate for history not to repeat itself.

York's racegoers on that August afternoon in 1972 let out a collective gasp of astonishment as the reality of what was happening dawned on them. The inaugural running of what is now the Juddmonte International played host to one of the greatest shocks in racing history.

The possibility of defeat for Frankel in a contest sponsored by his owner-breeder seems even more unthinkable.

Yet it is the knowledge that there is something very different about Frankel's latest task that makes this equine drama all the more irresistible.

Over a mile he has been untouchable, so much so that bookmakers returned him at 1-20 for his second success in the Qipco Sussex Stakes. This time he faces the greatest stamina test of his career, an extra 528 yards that bring with them an element of danger but also the possibility of a wonderfully unforgettable performance.

"It's a new challenge for him," said Khalid Abdullah's racing manager and York's new chairman Teddy Grimthorpe. "It's what people have been asking for and it's what they're getting. This race has been very much at the forefront of our minds. We gave it very good consideration for 2011, and then at the end of last year when Prince Khalid decided to keep him in training this became the major objective."

That major objective represents Frankel's 13th start and, potentially, his penultimate outing. An eighth consecutive Group 1 triumph would also break the record Tom Queally's mount shares with Rock Of Gibraltar, but first the son of Galileo must prove that his stamina is not suspect.

There to help him will be his front-running brother Bullet Train, but with Ballydoyle fielding two pacemakers alongside St Nicholas Abbey, the early gallop could be determined by a rival camp.

"What the others do is entirely up to them," said Grimthorpe. "How Frankel settles and goes in the race are slightly unknown, but you have to think, based on how he has finished his races over a mile full of running, that a mile and a quarter shouldn't present a problem."

Nor should defending champion Twice Over, the third runner for Abdullah and Sir Henry Cecil, both of whom are expected on the Knavesmire having been absent at Goodwood.

"Twice Over will run entirely on his merits and we hope for a very smart performance," said Grimthorpe, while not attempting to hide that this is all about Frankel.

"This is hugely important to Prince Khalid," he added. "To have his greatest horse running in his flagship sponsored race at the world's premier racecourse is a big thing."

Lee Mottershead

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Twice Over scores in last season's International but comes up against Frankel today
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 22, 2012
Words:521
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