Tears were probably shed at Warren Place, Newmarket, yesterday morning when the great Frankel left the yard to begin his exciting career as a stallion at Prince Khalid Abdulla’s Banstead Manor Stud at nearby Cheveley.
Life won’t be quite the same without the unbeaten 14-times winner, but that will not stop his trainer Sir Henry Cecil and jockey Tom Queally from bagging tomorrow’s final big race on the closing day of the season at Doncaster.
First Mohican is the horse on the warpath for Cecil and Queally and there is every indication this fast-rising star can lift the £65,000 Betfred November Handicap.
Like Frankel, First Mohican has yet to be beaten. But this four-year-old’s career spans only three races, one as a juvenile, when he created a big impresssion, and two this season. In between, First Mohican fractured a knee, which sidelined him for all of last year.
Such is First Mohican’s reputation that, according to his owner Henry Ponsonby, he worked favourably with Frankel when both were two-year-olds and was christened ‘Seabiscuit’, after the legendary American horse, by stable staff at Warren Place.
Patience in abundance has been required to get First Mohican back in a winning vein. His victories at Redcar and Nottingham this autumn stamped him as a horse with a bright future. And, although he faces tougher rivals tomorrow, the step up to a mile and a half will be perfect for him, and he is napped to score for the Frankel team.
Among the dangers are Richard Fahey’s Bridle Belle, winner of her last two races at York and Newmarket and again the mount of Paul Hanagan.
In each of the last two years, Hanagan has been crowned champion jockey on this day, but that honour tomorrow will go to Richard Hughes, who gave Hanagan such a battle in 2010.
Hughes may be able to mark his special day with a winner, and it could come from a newcomer, the Henry Candy-trained Cape Peron in the Betfred Cock O’ The North Maiden Stakes. It is purely guesswork, as Cape Peron has no form on which to judge him, but it is rare for Candy to book Hughes for a ride, so it may be significant that the two team up here.
Graham Lee has enjoyed an outstanding Flat campaign after switching from National Hunt and he can crown the final meeting aboard Jack Dexter, who has won five of his ten starts for Jim Goldie this season.
His latest handicap success on this course, following on from Ascot and Ayr, was impressive and it would come as no surprise to see this progressive sprinter proving his worth in Listed company in the Betfred Wentworth Stakes.
In the Betfred Nursery, Front Page News should not be overlooked. Robert Eddery’s juvenile, a Windsor winner earlier in the campaign, may have needed his recent Windsor outing, which was his first since early August. He promises to go well here.
The first race of the eight-strong card could go to Colbyor (11.50), stepping up to seven furlongs and the mount of Laura Barry, while the final race of the 2012 campaign looks a useful opportunity for Louis The Pious (3.45), trained by David O’Meara and beaten only a whisker by Regal Parade in a similarly hot handicap at York last month.
Over the jumps at Musselburgh today, make a note of Venetia Williams’ two long-distance raiders, Stars Du Granits (12.50) and Relax (3.20), and also Nicky Richards’ Simply Ned (2.50), a former course winner.
12.50 Stars Du Granits, 1.20 Vosges, 1.50 Swift Escape, 2.20 Dannanceys Hill, 2.50 Simply Ned, 3.20 Relax, 3.50 Lord Usher.
Today’s meetings: Fontwell, Hexham and Wolverhampton.
11.50 Colbyor, 12.20 Fame Again, 12.50 Cape Peron, 1.25 Front Page News, 2.00 Wannabe Loved, 2.35 First Mohican (NAP), 3.10 Jack Dexter, 3.45 Louis The Pious.
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Kelso, Sandown and Wincanton.