For Europeans at least, Frankel, redefined the definition of greatness as far as the thoroughbred is concerned. His magnificent 14 race career saw him crowned the champion of his generation at two, three and four, and head the World Thoroughbred rankings in 2011 and 2012. More telling is that the champion’s frequent thrashings of horses that, when not facing him, appeared to be top drawer in their own right, was the catalyst for a complete recalibration of the International Classifications and World Thoroughbred Rankings from 1977 onwards. This is scarcely surprising, given the implications of a horse who has so dramatically and completely dominated his contemporaries otherwise appearing to have one superior (Dancing Brave) and two equals (Alleged and Shergar) in a relatively short span of time. The complete review of ratings and methodology used over the last 35 years has resulted in a significant shake-up, with the relative standings of some champions rising and others falling. With regard to Frankel, he now stands alone at the pinnacle (on 140), followed by Dancing Brave (138), Peintre Celebre (137) and Generous (136). Similarly, Timeform, whose 140 and higher ratings stretch back to Tudor Minstrel in 1947 have also rated Frankel as the best of all time, with a rating of 147, above Sea-Bird II (145), Brigadier Gerard and Tudor Minstrel (144), Abernant, Ribot and Windy City (142) and Mill Reef (141).
When a horse like Frankel comes along, words like “fluke” or “freak” tended to get bandied about. We, however, prefer to think of Frankel representing the “perfect storm” perhaps one that yields the rogue wave that sweeps aside all in it’s path. There are many elements to the phenotype and genotype of athletic performance, be it equine or human, these including structure and biomechanics; quality and quantity of musculature; cardio-vascular system; the processes regarding energy and nervous systems; and the mental compenent. We would hazard a guess that in Frankel we have the extraordinarily rare individual who is not only excellent in each of these compenent, but also possess them in a way where they are all aptitudinally harmonious with each other, a case where the sum truly is greater than the parts.
It almost goes without saying that one cannot plan to breed a Frankel – as demstronstrated by his three-parts-brother, Bullet Train, and brother Noble Mission, both accomplished runners, but a considerable distance apart from the champion in both talent and aptitude – but we can note that he does combine all the genetic elements for success. He’s not only by the leading sire of his time, but his paternal and maternal grandsires, Sadler’s Wells and Danehill, were the dominant sires of their era, and he also comes from a strong family. These elements have also consistently proven their affinity for each other, Galileo having sired 17 stakes winners from 101starters out of Danehill mares, six of them group one winners, while Sadler’s Wells sired multiple group/grade one winner Powerscourt out of the group winning granddam of Frankel. And Galileo has also shown a strong affinity for the mitochondrial haplotype of the Bruce Lowe #1 family, from which Frankel stems.
Frankel’s brilliance doesn’t really give much clue as to his potential short or long-term impact as a sire. When we consider great horses of the past, we’ll find that they run the range for spectularly successful to almost complete disasters. The horse that, in living memory, perhaps most closely resembles Frankel, at least in terms of the way he could completely destroy the opposition, was Secretariat. He was a reasonably successful sire, if disappointing relative to expectations; a terrible sire of sires; but a breed-shaper as a broodmare sire (A.P. Indy, Storm Cat, Gone West to name but three). Oddly enough, Secretariat, from a pedigree standpoint, is something of an analog to Frankel. He was by the best sire of his day, Bold Ruler, and bred on the best cross for that stallion, that with Princequillo mares. However, he was also something of a physical outlier, and in general was not best-served by the mares to which he was bred, as he was a horse who would have been aided by speedier mares, rather than classic distance types.
In some of the power Frankel’s pedigree lies some of the challenge to his career as a stallion: he’s not only bred on the strongest cross for his sire, but with Sadler’s Wells and Danehill, as his grandsires he’s going to be generally regarded as off limits to a high proportion of Europe’s top mares.That’s not to say that one can’t find plenty of other options, and we should note that the similarly-bred Teofilo is Europe’s current leading third season sire.
Among the most obvious is Shirley Heights (who has been best under Galileo through Darshaan and Mark of Esteem, but who could also be interesting through Slip Anchor, Deploy, and Darshaan’s son, Dalakhani). Sharpen Up through Kris and Diesis and Selkirk has strong appeal, as does Ahonoora and his Indian Ridge. Galileo has enjoyed a very strong affinity with mares from the Roberto line, including via Red Ransom, and his son, Intikhab, Silver Hawk, Lear Fan and Kris S. Galileo has done well when crossed back over mares carrying Sadler’s Wells’ three-quarters-brother, Nureyev, including two group winners out of mares by Nureyev himself and group one winner Rip Van Winkle out of a mare by Nureyev son, Stravinsky. Peintre Celebre and Spinning World are other sources of Nureyev that produced Galileo line stakes winners.
Galileo is out of a mare by Miswaki, a son of Mr. Prospector, but has not had a particularly good strike-rate with Mr. Prospector line mares. Galileo’s dam is a three-parts-sister to King’s Best, a son of Kingmambo (broodmare sire of a Galileo stakes winner), so that could be a strain to consider. It would not be out of the bounds of possibility to try a King’s Best mare giving Mr. Prospector 5 x 4 and Allegretta 4 x 3 (through Urban Sea and King’s Best). With Danehill in the dam, it could be worth considering Machiavellian (broodmare sire of Galileo group one winner Red Rocks) giving linebreeding to Natalma, through two sons and a daughter in Frankel, and another daughter in Machiavellian (as well as another strain of Northern Dancer’s granddam, Almahmoud, through Halo). He hals also succeeded with Woodman, a three-quarters-relative to Miswaki, and that suggests Seeking the Gold might also work (with Dubawi being an obvious source). The best source of Machiavellian might be Street Cry, who brings in a cross of Never Bend. Distorted Humor and Fusaichi Pegasus daughters – giving inbreeding to Danzig – might also be possible. The Galileo/Blushing Groom cross has produce 11 stakes winners, and appeals through Rahy, Nashwan and Rainbow Quest. Galileo has a classic winner out of a Storm Cat mare, and Teofilo already has a group one winner out of a mare by Storm Cat son, Giant’s Causeway.
While Galileo has been exceptional with Danehill, he has also done well with other branches of Danzig. Interestingly, Teofilo already has five stakes winners when crossed back over mares from the Danzig line, and branches to consider include Green Desert (sire of Invincible Spirit, Oasis Dream and Cape Cross), Anabaa, Sinndar and his sire Grand Lodge (by Chief’s Crown).
Finally, and although there will probably not be much inclination on the part of those putting up 125,000 pounds to breed to Frankel to experiment with relatively close inbreeding, we can note that Teofilo has sired group one winner Parish Hall out of a mare by Sadler’s Wells son Montjeu, and a stakes winner out of a mare by a son of Danehill (giving Danehill 2 x 3).