- Frankel becomes first horse to defend Sussex Stakes title at Glorious Goodwood
- The unbeaten colt, ranked No. 1 in world, wins his seventh successive Group One race
- Jockey Tom Queally guides Frankel to a six-length victory at the English meeting
- His next race will see him step up from the mile distance for the first time in his career
Olympic fever gripped the host nation on Wednesday as Britain won its first gold medals of the 2012 Games, but in a quiet corner of England arguably the greatest sporting performance of the day was played out before a much smaller audience of just 13,000 people.
Frankel, the world's top-ranked racehorse, defended his unbeaten record in typically emphatic style, thrashing his rivals to win the showpiece Sussex Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood meeting by sixth lengths from Farhh -- a valiant second under Frankie Dettori.
He became the first horse to win the Group One race two years in a row. It was the 12th victory of Frankel's career, and the eighth at Group One level -- seven of those in a row, drawing him level with Rock of Gibraltar and Miss Terrible but two short of Zenyatta's leading elite mark.
The margin of victory would have been greater had jockey Tom Queally not eased Frankel down in the final strides, but his success was widely expected.
The Henry Cecil-trained four-year-old was sent off at odds of 20-1 on, meaning a bet of $20 would return just $1. Although there are few certainties in the field of athletic endeavor, the result of this race never looked in doubt.
Led out, as usual, by his big brother and pace maker Bullet Train, Frankel destroyed the field with such insouciant ease that at times the race resembled a time trial. Even cycling champion Bradley Wiggins, however, is not capable of the sustained burst of speed that is Frankel's hallmark -- every one of his all-devouring strides opened up more and ground between him and the rest of the field.
While Frankel is undoubtedly great news for racing -- he is the only equine athlete who regularly grabs the headlines from his human counterparts -- to some degree the hype around this superstar has turned him into a victim of his own success.
These days he runs against ever-dwindling fields -- on this occasion just three rivals went to the start, and that included stable companion Bullet Train, whose sole purpose in life is to give Frankel a flying start in his races then humbly fade into obscurity in the final furlongs. If horses were capable of sibling rivalry, then Bullet Train would surely be a candidate for the psychiatrist's couch.
Given the testing conditions at the West Sussex course (several horses had already come a cropper around the famously tight right-hand bend), this was never going to be a procession on the scale of the 11-length drubbing Frankel handed out at Royal Ascot back in June. But sixth lengths -- and an eased-down sixth lengths at that -- is still a huge margin in racing terms.
Frankel's next challenge will be the Juddmonte Stakes at York later this month, which will see him step up from the mile distance for the first time in his career.
If there was a cloud to Frankel's silver lining it was that Cecil, who has masterminded the horse's career to perfection, could not be at Goodwood to enjoy his colt's success. The 69-year-old is undergoing another bout of treatment for cancer.
His jockey, however, was a picture of modesty when accepting the plaudits for the horse's latest performance: "He does it all very easily and therefore I have a very easy job," Queally told reporters. "All I have to do is steer."
Such is Frankel's dominance in his own sport that the comparisons tend to be made with athletes from outside of his own species, such as 0.49-furlong runner Usain Bolt, record-breaking swimmer Michael Phelps or the hitherto-peerless Mohammed Ali.
If the successes keep coming in this fashion, Ali et al had better watch their backs, for, human or non-human, we could be witnessing the greatest of all time.